Tennis coach set for a ball after being chosen to carry the Olympic Torch
KEITH Songhurst has spent most of his life with a racket in hand but the tennis coach will have something all the more important in his grasp this summer.
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Keith Songhurst will be carry the Olympic Torch this summer, seen her in the grasp of swimming legend Mark Foster
The 72-year-old first picked up a tennis racket aged 12 while at school and has been affiliated with Penzance Tennis Club for over three decades.
He has gone on to coach Simon Pender, who is now Talent Performance Manager for the LTA in the South West, and has shown no signs of slowing down despite his age.
Keith's dedication has not gone unnoticed - he won the Lifetime Services to Sport prize at last year's Cornwall Sports Awards while also helping Penzance Tennis Club win Club of the Year.
He will now carry the Olympic Torch after friend and club chairman Trevor Newborn's nomination, through Lloyds TSB's nationwide search, was confirmed - something Keith is eternally grateful for.
"I am so happy that I am going to be involved in the Torch Relay and it was something that took me by surprise," said Keith - who will be one of just 8,000 people to carry the London 2012 Torch.
"When I found out I couldn't believe it and I checked it and checked it again over and over and I am very honoured that I have been given this opportunity.
"Trevor and I have been good friends for a long time and I coached his two children and even though they are all grown up we still have a great relationship and an even better one now I have this great honour bestowed on me.
"I tried to get Olympic tickets for the tennis but obviously it was pot luck and I wasn't lucky enough to get any through the ballot even though I planned to still go down to Wimbledon to check it all out.
"But obviously this Relay opportunity blows that out of the water and I feel very lucky to have been given this chance."
Keith will run with the Torch on the very first day of the Relay - May 19 - as it passes through Penzance and he insists he has no plans to hang up his racket just yet.
"I am still coaching to this day and I still enjoy every bit of it so I will do it for as long as I can," he added. "Penzance Tennis Club is a great place to be and tennis is a great sport to be involved in so I will not be stopping any time soon."
As the only National Presenting Partner of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay, Lloyds TSB is bringing the excitement of the Games and Olympic Flame closer to you. Find out what we're doing in your community and who is carrying the Flame at lloydstsb.com/carrytheflame
© Sportsbeat 2012