4:10pm Wednesday 28th March 2012
By Lauren May
Not one of the 20 "inspirational" people selected to carry the Olympic Torch through Wimbledon, Colliers Wood and Mitcham this summer appears to be from Merton.
Those selected to carry the Olympic flame through Merton on July 23 include Sharon Culpepper, 46, from Georgia in the United States, Edson Alfonso, 67, from Rio De Janeiro, Lacey Weiszbrod, 29, from San Francisco.
Duncan Mackay, 46, from Milton Keynes, a well known sports journalist who founded an Olympic news website, will also be running through Merton carrying the Olympic flame for the second time having already been given the honour as the flame travelled through London en route to the Beijing 2008 games.
Seven torchbearers come from “London” but the games' organisers Locog could not counter claims they all came from outside Merton.
Only two people from the borough are running, but not in Merton.
Gordhan Chavda, 72, will be carrying the flame through Lewisham.
The other, Haydon the Womble, AFC Wimbledon’s mascot, will run in Sutton.
Even Ray Stevens, former Judo silver medallist in the 1992 Olympic Games who runs judo classes in Wimbledon, will be carrying the Olympic flame 50 miles away through Maidstone.
He said: "Originally it was going to be in John O’Groats so they have changed it around but they have said it could change again.
"My business and all the kids that know me are from Wimbledon. That’s where my club is and where I spend my time. It would be nice if I was a torchbearer here... It is a shame but on a personal level it’s a real honour for me."
Unveiling the route last week, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson had proclaimed the event would be a "wonderful chance to soak up the festival atmosphere as local people carry the flame towards its final destination at the Olympic Park."
But with no-one from Merton running through the borough, claims by organisers it would be torchbearers’ "moment to shine, inspiring millions of people watching in their community" seem remote.
One upside for those wishing to line the route is they will see tennis superstar Andy Murray carry the flame through Mitcham, Colliers Wood and Wimbledon Park.
Stephen Hammond, MP for Wimbledon said: "I am extremely disappointed.
"The opportunity to take part in the torch relay is a unique experience and Wimbledon residents should be involved.
"I tried to persuade Locog that all volunteers needed for the Tennis Tournament at Wimbledon should come from Merton.”
A Locog spokesman said it aimed to have torchbearers running within an hour’s journey time of the postcode at which they were nominated.
He said: "The slotting process is very complex.
"We are allocating 8,000 torchbearers to a 300m slot on an 8,000 mile route.
"Making one small change would effectively change all subsequent slots."
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