De Montfort University student Matt Gopsill was thrilled when he not only carried the Olympic Torch but was handed the flame by football legend Gary Lineker.
Man Utd supporter Matt said afterwards: “It felt really special. I didn’t realise Gary could still pass that well! I will remember this occasion for a long time.”
Matt, 30, who is studying a master’s degree in computing at the university in Leicester, has athetoid cerebral palsy. He uses a motorised wheelchair controlled by his head movements and a computer screen to communicate.
Match of the Day presenter Gary, who returned to his home town to run along Abbey Park Road at 7.30am on Tuesday morning, lit Matt’s torch before Matt completed his 300 yards of the route.
After handing the torch to Matt, Gary said: “This epitomises what the Torch Relay is all about and shows the real spirit of the games. I hope Matt enjoyed his few hundred yards as much as I did running mine.”
Matt’s nomination to carry the torch came from De Montfort University’s Faculty of Technology, who praised him for being a model student who completes his work to a high standard with the minimal of fuss. The nomination added: “Matt is a real example of what DMU can do for any student with the determination to succeed."
After hearing he had been chosen to carry the Olympic Flame, Matt said: “When DMU asked me if I minded having my name put forward for the torch relay I was astonished to be picked from thousands of students. I could not believe it. I think I am an ordinary student with a few extra wheels!”
Matt was one of three De Montfort University students selected to carry the torch by electronics giant Samsung, a presenting partner of the Olympic Torch relay, who wanted to reward people who always go the extra mile.
Psychology student Ahmad Teladia, 21, was nominated for being a dedicated volunteer who has raised thousands of pounds for charity. He has helped primary school children through a Right to Read programme, climbed Ben Nevis to raise funds for Islamic Relief, abseiled down the Leicester Tigers’ stadium for Christian Aid and cycled from London to Edinburgh for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.
He has also raised funds for victims of the Japanese Tsunami and volunteered with DMU’s award-winning Square Mile project.
Midwifery student Kerry Hewitt, 36, carried the torch into Leicester on Monday evening. She was nominated for working hard to overcome dyslexia and its numerical equivalent, dyscalculia. Kerry was also put forward for juggling her studies, which includes early and late shift work, with raising her three children Kiah, 17, Kieran, 14, and Alfie, aged four, without ever complaining. Kerry is also a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Research and completed the 10km Race for Life.
Professor Dominic Shellard, Vice-Chancellor of De Montfort University, said: “Matt, Kerry and Ahmed are an inspiration to us all.”
Posted on Tuesday 3rd July 2012