Grainger lights up Bank of Scotland National School Sport Week with London 2012 torch
THREE-time Olympic silver medallist Katherine Grainger helped inspire the next generation of domestic sporting talent as the London 2012 torch arrived in Scotland on Friday.
LIGHTING IT UP: Three-time Olympic silver medallist Katherine Grainger was one of the stars of the show in Glasgow on Friday
Rower Grainger - who had her inevitable London participation rubber-stamped last week - took a break from her Olympic training schedule to carry the flame as it made its way through Glasgow.
Grainger was roared on by thousands of Glasgow schoolchildren at Toryglen Regional Football Centre as she took her turn with the flame in hand.
The youngsters, from schools across the city, had earlier enjoyed an afternoon of Olympic and Paralympic sport taster sessions as part of a showcase Bank of Scotland National School Sport Week event.
And, while delighted to be personally involved, Grainger insisted the most important aspect of the day's events was the opportunity to inspire a generation of potential young talent.
"It meant so much to hold the torch, it really did," said the 36-year-old. "It was a very special moment as the Olympics has obviously been a massive part of my life for the last 15 years.
"It showed that it is not just Olympians who get excited by the torch. I think for people at an impressionable age to be this close to the flame is amazing for them. It's a moment they will remember for rest of their life."
Grainger's delight at the number of kids being engaged in sport on Friday will only grow next week as National School Sport Week, run in partnership with sportscotland, begins in earnest.
From June 11 to 15 - for the third-consecutive year - NSSW's five-day celebration of sport will involve more than 1,950 schools and over half a million pupils from every local authority area in Scotland.
And, with those figures representing over 75 per-cent of all schools in Scotland and a third more than 2011, a delighted Sally Hancock, Olympic Marketing Director for Lloyds Banking Group, said: "Friday was almost the perfect storm, we had the torch in Glasgow with all our fantastic torchbearers.
"And we launched National School Sport Week which is going to have over two thirds of schools across Scotland involved.
"That is a great testimony that the 2012 Games do reach every corner of the UK."
And Louise Martin, chair of sportscotland, insisted the Glasgow event was the perfect start for an event that is going from strength to strength.
"For all the kids to be part of a day like that is such an inspirational moment," she said. "We want kids, through National School Sport Week, to try as many sports as possible and you saw that on Friday."
Chief architect of the hectic day at Toryglen was Sally Tait - Active Schools Manager for Glasgow City Council.
"It definitely took a lot of organising but it was a great day and a great success," she said. "We have got National Schol Spoort Week starting and it is going from strength to strength each year."
But Grainger wasn't the only person having their moment in the spotlight with a torch. Since May 23 over 70 schools from the city, in preparation for the Olympic torch's arrival, had been conducting their own relay around Glasgow.
King's Park Primary School had the honour of bringing their unofficial torch - designed and made by a Glasgow secondary school pupil - into the Toryglen Regional Football Centre just hours before Grainger.
And ten-year-old pupil Mia Ross admitted the experience was one to remember. "It was really cool," she said. "It was really exciting and I felt really lucky to carry the torch at the end and be on the stage."
Grainger and co were also joined by representatives of the Bank of Scotland Local Heroes initiative, among them wheelchair rugby player Mike Kerr, selected on the British team for the Paralympics.
Kerr got his hands on the flame - taking over from Grainger as it exited Toryglen, and he said: "It was an absolutely amazing experience."
Bank of Scotland National School Sport Week took place from 11-15 June 2012 and is Scotland's biggest school sport event with over 1,800 schools and half a million pupils taking part, staging their own Games. Find out more at www.schoolsportweekscotland.org
© Sportsbeat 2012