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Consett man who ran barefoot through Barnard Castle brings Olympic inspiration to Kenya
AN Olympic torchbearer who ran the relay in bare feet to highlight third world poverty has given his torch to children in a Kenyan slum.
John McBride, 48, said he hopes the donation, which he delivered in person, will act as a symbol of hope.
He led a mini-marathon through the city’s Korogocho slum district before donating his torch to the St John’s Sports Society, a free, charity-run gym for young people.
“I was totally blown away when I did my run through the streets of Korogocho, and saw all the youngsters and adults joining in or cheering us along,” said Mr McBride.
“It felt like the whole community was taking part.
“It will stand there as a reminder to all those young people that their dream of competing in the Olympics is not a distant fairy-tale, but something they can reach out and touch with their own hands.John McBride
You could see how much it meant to them and I hope my torch will continue to inspire the young people of Korogocho for years to come.
“It will stand there as a reminder to all those young people that their dream of competing in the Olympics is not a distant fairy-tale, but something they can reach out and touch with their own hands.
“Their joy and enthusiasm is what the Olympics is all about, not any corporate sponsors or celebrity torch auctions.”
Mr McBride refused to wear shoes during the torch relay and completes the Great North Run barefoot each year to raise money for Cafod – the Catholic aid charity that runs the gym.
He said he was inspired to throw off his trainers after his first trip to Nairobi’s poorest areas.
“I saw so many children playing in the streets without shoes,” he said.
“Removing my trainers reminds me of the reason I’m running. I was thinking of those children when I got to Barnard Castle on Wednesday, and took my trainers off.
“The torch relay organisers told me I couldn’t run barefoot, but I didn’t put my trainers back on, hoping and praying that they wouldn’t remove me from the relay at the last minute. I wore the official tracksuit they gave me but my bare feet showed who I was really running for.”
During his visit to Kenya, he also handed over more than 60 pairs of shoes and trainers donated by pupils at St Patrick’s Primary School, in Consett.
Father John Weebotsa, who runs the St John’s Sports Society in Korogocho, said: “When we read that people in Britain were selling these torches for thousands of pounds, we could not believe that someone would choose instead to give their torch to inspire and encourage the children at our society.
“There will be many heroes at the London 2012 Games, but for me, John is the first hero of this Olympics.”
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