Ryan lights the way as Olympic Torch arrives in Newry

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Tuesday, June 5th, 2012
Community, News, Sport
It isn’t very often that anyone in Newry gets to witness an occasion where the centre stage contains an Olympic Gold Medalist, the outgoing Lord Mayor of Newry, the Northern Ireland Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, TV personality Zoe Salmon and Britain’s Got Talent Finalists ‘Twist and Pulse’. But that’s exactly what greeted the thousands tonight who packed into Páirc Esler. A strong wind and some heavy rain didn’t keep away the local community, who came in their droves to witness something very special indeed. It wasn’t the Gold Medalist or the other well known faces though that the local community came out to support. It was an unassuming 17 year old boy – Ryan Cinnamond – who stole the show and epitomized all that is good within our local community.

Thousands gathered tonight to witness the arrival of the Olympic Torch in Pairc Esler

As soon as the gates opened to The Marshes at around 4:00pm there was a sense of anticipation in the cold air that we were about to witness something truly spectacular. And the occasion lived up to it. Coca Cola gave out free bottles of ice cold drinks and party equipment and Samsung laid on a pre-event treat of songs and dance. General Fiasco – the hugely popular indie rock band from Northern Ireland – then took to the stage and belted out some of their most famous songs. The best however, was yet to come. From behind the stage some of the crowd spotted the flame and the countdown to its eagerly awaited arrival began. Young Ryan Cinnamond, surrounded by a host of well wishers, walked determinedly towards the stage. Scenes of joy and emotion greeted Ryan and a standing ovation ensued, applauding the inspirational teenager as he took centre stage.

Young Ryan Cinnamond lights the Beacon with the Olympic Flame. Photograph courtesy of Ben Birchall/PA Wire PA

A slightly nervous Ryan was asked by Zoe Salmon how he felt and a huge smile appeared on his face as he said, “Brilliant, it’s just brilliant!” Ryan was then asked to sum up the whole experience and his reply was simple yet passionate. “Unreal” he announced. Shouting out to his friends and family who watched on in admiration, Ryan looked like a young man who knew he was part of something unprecedented in the area. Páirc Esler has experienced some incredible sporting events over the years but it is unlikely this impressive arena will ever create such a sense of pride and euphoria and unite a community as much as it did tonight when one young boy, against all odds, carried the Olympic Torch on stage. For more pictures check out the Newry Times gallery below: [nggallery id=22]

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