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Kingston pensioner to carry the flame for Olympics
A former Kingston mayor who helped women’s cycling gain recognition as an Olympic sport will carry the London 2012 flame when it passes through Kingston.
Eileen Gray first started cycling seriously during World War II, but a Danish event in 1946 put her on a course that transformed the cycling world.
Mrs Gray, 92, said she and two other British women were only invited to the event in Ordurp to take part in what organisers thought would be a novelty event.
Although she gave up competitive cycling a year later following the birth of her son, she “got more and more involved on the other side”.
She pushed for official recognition of women’s world records, helped create the first women’s world cycling championships in 1958, and eventually saw the sport gain Olympic staus in 1984.
Mrs Gray was made an MBE and CBE for services to cycling, is president of the London Youth Games and was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame last year.
After hearing she would be among the torchbearers on Tuesday, July 24, she said: “I must say, it was a bit of a shock. I think for 92 I’m doing extremely well.”
She said her experiences as a cycling administrator included being stranded in Venezuela after a mix-up over planes, and a dispiriting time at the boycott-hit Moscow Olympics in 1980.
Mrs Gray, who served as Kingston mayor in 1990-91, said she was excited that Olympic cycling events would pass through the borough next year.
However, the announcement of the Olympic torch bearers caused disappointment for one sporting star of the future.
Disabled wheelchair athlete Jack Binstead, who won the London mini-marathon in April despite a dislocated hip, heard he had not made the final cut.
The 15-year-old Chessington Community College student said: “To be honest with you, with what I have got planned next year I am not too bothered.
“It would have been nice but I wasn’t too bothered when I heard.
“It’s a really small chance to get it, thousands and thousands of people applied, so it’s not too bad.”
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