British-Pinoy carries Olympic Torch in London

by Rose Eclarinal, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Jul 25 2012 09:16 PM | Updated as of Jul 26 2012 05:22 AM

LONDON - On Day 64 of the Olympic torch relay, 22-year-old British-Filipino Steven Cheung from Chingford, carried the flame. He was one of the 143 torchbearers at Day 1 of torch relay in London.

Cheung was nominated through the London Organizing Committee for Olympics and Paralympics Games (LOCOG) program for his volunteer work in Waltham Forest.

“I cannot express my excitement because this is my borough, this is where I grew up, and this a privilege to be able to run for one of the host boroughs for the 2012 games,” said Steven Cheung.

Steven Cheung passing the flame to a fellow torch bearer

A volunteer and a community leader since the young age of 12, Cheung was awarded a Princess Diana Award for his work in the community. He was also chosen as an Olympic Youth Ambassador for the borough.

“I have been an Olympic Ambassador for Waltham Forest for the last six years since London has won its bid to host the 2012 Olympics,” he said.  

Cheung is proud to represent his community and is looking forward to be more involved in promoting ethnic cohesion in London.

“Proud na proud ako bilang Pinoy to be able to take part in the 2012 Olympic Games. For me to take part in the Olympic Games is not my personal pride. It’s the pride of the whole country. Our status is being recognized internationally as Filipino. We owe a debt of gratitude to overseas Filipinos around the world,” said Cheung.  

Cheung carried the torch at the Market Square of Waltham Forest. The flame was handed to him by fellow torchbearer Roy Stratton past 7 p.m.

Many of Cheung’s supporters lined the streets along the town square to cheer him on. Among them are his parents, brother and embassy officials headed by Philippine Ambassador to the UK Enrique Manalo.

“We are very proud that a member of the community takes part in a very historic event and it also shows the role of the Filipinos here in the UK and their participation of the 2012 London Olympics,” said Manalo.  

“Masayang, masaya ako at very proud ako para sa anak ko, pati na rin ang mga Pilipino, proud na proud para sa kanya,” said Ami Cheung, Steven’s mother.

An ambitious, young achiever, Cheung gave politics a shot three years ago when he ran as the youngest Member of Parliament or MP for the European Parliament.

Torchbearer highlights

The Olympics torch relay reached London on Friday evening after travelling across the UK. It stayed overnight at the Jewel House for safekeeping. The flame arrived in the Tower of London, in a James Bond-style fashion, with a torchbearer abseiling from a Royal Marine helicopter.

On Day 1 of the flame in London, it travelled to Greeenwich Park. The torch relay moved to Woolwich, London Borough of Newham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest with torchbearers ranging from the youngest Londoner to the oldest. 

Steven Cheung’s family with Ambassador Enrique Manalo and Consul Luis Alferez waiting Steven’s relay leg

Chester Chambers, aged 12, was nominated for epitomizing the Olympic values.  The oldest torch bearer, aged 101, is Fauja Sigh. He is an inspiration to runners around the world for starting as a marathon runner career at the age of 89 and successfully completed nine marathons.

The first day of torch relay in London was also made special by the participation of former Olympians, sports icons and celebrities. Tessa Sanderson-White carried the flame in Newham. Sanderson-White is the only British woman to win an Olympic throwing gold medal, after her success in the Javelin at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games.

Sports stars Nadia Comaneci, Phillips Idowu, and John Amaechi carried the torch as it travelled between Greenwich and Waltham Forest.

Popstar Dizzee Rascal, who is from Bow in Tower Hamlets, and footballer Fabrice Muamba carried the flame in its first day of journey to the boroughs of London.

Evening Celebrations

The London Borough of Waltham Forest hosted an evening celebration at Chestnut Field. The program featured a variety of entertainment staged by LOCOG partners, with acts from UnityUK, Mizz Camara and energetic free runners Rhythm Kour Collective, among others.

At the end of the 2-hour show, the last torchbearer of the day lit a celebration cauldron on the stage.