Leeds: Countdown is on as Olympic torch gets closer

Luke Young with his Olympic torch at Headingley with Ronnie The Rhino and Rhinos Brett Delaney and Darrell Griffin.
Luke Young with his Olympic torch at Headingley with Ronnie The Rhino and Rhinos Brett Delaney and Darrell Griffin.
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Final preparations are being made ahead of the Olympic torch relay arriving in Leeds for the second time on Sunday. (June 24)

The city will come alive with events as 22 torchbearers make their way through the streets after the torch arrives in Headingley from Ilkley at 5.48pm.

Headingley Carnegie Stadium will remain open after Leeds Rhinos’ match against Castleford, where fans will be entertained ahead of the torch’s arrival at the cricket ground.

Torchbearers Ian Tippen and Peter Howard will complete the handover at the centre of the pitch, before the relay makes its way out of the venue towards Potternewton Park.

Leeds Rhinos stars Darrell Griffin and Brett Delaney got their hands on an Olympic torch when Rhinos fan and torchbearer Luke Young – who completed his leg of the relay in York – visited Headingley.

Dad-of-two Luke, from Dishforth, said: “It is a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I hope as many fans as possible stay at the ground to welcome the torch.

“The atmosphere in York was incredible but I have been to a couple of other torch events and everywhere it goes, people get swept up in the moment.”

After Headingley, the relay heads through Potternewton, Harehills and Richmond Hill, with celebrations taking place at Potternewton Park, Banstead Park and East End Park.

The day culminates in a ‘special city celebration’ at Temple Newsam – one of four being staged by Coca-Cola nationwide – starring Friendly Fires, Tribes and Little Comets.

The event, which will feature a giant cauldron being lit on stage, also acts as a showcase for local talent, with highlights including a mass participation dance and a community choir.

At a press briefing at The Carriageworks yesterday (June 22), organisers admitted there might be an “issue” with the England match kicking off at 7.45pm – 15 minutes after the torch is due to arrive at Temple Newsam.

Coun Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for leisure, said: “Obviously that’s going to be an issue; but the event starts at 2.30pm, so I think there will certainly be big numbers then.”

On Monday, the torch leaves Leeds Town Hall at 7.17am and weaves through the city centre, with Leeds Photographic Society members snapping the big moment at County Arcade.

Leeds Building Society on Albion Street will serve coffee and bacon sandwiches from 7am, while knights on horseback will greet the torch when it arrives at the Royal Armouries.

Around 2,000 schoolchildren and members of the Team GB diving squad will welcome the torch to the John Charles Centre for Sport, before it leaves Leeds via Beeston and Morley and heads over to Wakefield.