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Thu, 05 Apr 2012 16:38:00 BST

Martin steps forth... with the Olympic Torch!

Martin Plant

WHEN he takes his turn at carrying the Olympic flame, the University of Huddersfield’s Martin Plant (pictured) will be holding a torch for the thousands of men and women around the country who devote their spare time to coaching and administering youth sport.

In Martin’s case, this means the eight years he has spent coaching teams of young footballers, aged five to 15, at the Stalybridge Celtic club.

“I absolutely love it!” says Martin, who is Head of Staff Development at the University of Huddersfield, where he has worked since 2005.  “And one reason I am so pleased to have been chosen to carry the Olympic torch is because I feel I represent people like me – all the mums and dads who give up every Saturday and Sunday  to do something really useful, helping to give young people the opportunity to play sport.”

The London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay begins in the UK on 19 May at Land’s End, passing more than 1,000 communities on its route around the country, before arriving in London for the opening ceremony on 27 July.  Last year, nominations were invited so that local torchbearers could be selected.  They carry a lighted torch for a distance of approximately half a kilometre, and use the flame to ignite the torch held by the next person in the relay.

Martin Plant was nominated by the University of Huddersfield and was chosen to join the relay after he impressed selectors with a written submission.  He will carry the flame when it arrives in his home patch of Ashton-under-Lyne on 24 June.

Martin – an ex-Sunday League footballer – became involved with Stalybridge Celtic when one of his sons joined the club.  He obtained an FA coaching badge, and youth football has been a big part of his life ever since.

It is very much in the traditional Olympic spirit, he believes. “It is all about the love of sport rather than the love of winning and it is fantastically rewarding bringing the youngsters on and seeing their levels of skill grow.”

Martin, aged 49, who has worked in human resources for the NHS as well as the university sector, is also a safety trainer for the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and that too will be in his thoughts when he carries the flame.

He will be issued with a special outfit for his turn with the torch and is already in serious training so that he can run the Ashton-under-Lyne section in style. 

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