PROUD torchbearers Ian Tippen and Peter Howard were greeted by thousands of sports fans as the Olympic torch stopped off at Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
The cricket ground was the first landmark visited by the torch relay when it entered Leeds for an overnight stay on Sunday (June 24), greeted by glorious sunshine.
Crowds lined the streets as the first torchbearer Richard McCann – motivational speaker and son of Yorkshire Ripper victim Wilma McCann – stepped up for his moment in the spotlight at 5.40pm.
The 42-year-old, who lives in Oakwood, ran from the start of the route on Kirkstall Lane in Headingley and handed over to Ian Tippen, who completed the run into the stadium.
Richard said: “It was absolutely incredible. It was everything I expected and 10 times more. I couldn’t believe how many people had turned out; it was overwhelming.
“The crowds were 10 or 15 people deep and people were holding out their children and asking me to pose for pictures. I just got mobbed; It was absolutely unbelievable.”
Thousands of sports fans witnessed the handover between Ian Tippen and Peter Howard, as Headingley Carnegie Stadium stayed open after Leeds Rhinos’ win over Castleford Tigers.
After the match, fans headed to the cricket ground, where Ian – an army veteran and marathon runner from Wakefield – handed over to 78-year-old former triathlon world champion Peter.
Cheers rang out as Ian, 65, ran through the Trueman Enclosure onto the centre of the pitch, through a guard of honour made of Leeds Metropolitan University students and young cricketers.
Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, who was in the centre of the pitch to greet the torchbearers with his daughter Isobel, six, said: “It’s really exciting; a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I’m so lucky that it’s come through my constituency and that I’ve been MP at the time of the London Olympics. The atmosphere was fantastic.”
After leaving the stadium, the torch headed along North Lane and down the A660 past the Arndale Centre, turning right onto Shaw Lane and Grove Lane.
Just as the torch was leaving Headingley, a man with a bucket of water was seen in the crowd – but he was tackled by the torch security team before he could empty the contents.
Next, the torch headed towards Potternewton, where torchbearers included Yvonne Crowther, who won a Pride of Britain award last year for her work in establishing a youth club.
The 55-year-old, who lives in Beeston, also had a special surprise waiting for her at the finish - her 93-year-old mother had travelled up from Wales especially for her daughter’s big moment.
Yvonne said: “It was just incredible; my mum was there, my niece was there, my sister was there - the whole family had showed up and that just set me off.
“The crowd were unbelievable, they really came out in force - it was crazy. It was a really proud moment and I’m just so honoured to have been a part of it.”