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Byline: Chris Henwood

CROWDS flocked to the Midland town credited as the birthplace of the modern Olympics as it welcomed the official flame yesterday.

The Olympic Torch zigzagged its way down the Welsh border before heading east into Shropshire to Much Wenlock - where Dr William Penny Brookes established the Wenlock Olympian Games in 1850.

The Victorian namesake included classic athletics along with sports such as quoits, football and cricket and within a few years was attracting competitors from places such as London and Liverpool.

Dr Brookes also helped set up the Shropshire Games in 1861 and five years later the National Olympian Games.

His meeting with Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who established the International Olympic Committee, took place at the Raven Hotel, where artefacts from those early years are still on display today, including original letters between the two men.

And The Wenlock Olympian Games, a four-day event during the second weekend in July, is still contested in the town every year. One of the two London Olympics' mascots is named after the town. But modern Olympics fever swept through the town as flame was carried through and onto nearby Benthall. Among the town's seven torchbearers was Telford pensioner Ron Miles, aged 83.

An Olympic Torch spokesman said: "Ron has also undertaken many fundraising challenges over the years, including abseiling and he recently walked on hot coals as a fund-raising stunt for a local charity. Above all, he is a 'character', whose involvement in this wonderful event would appeal to a large number of local people."

The torch was carried from Benthall onto Broseley and then Ironbridge, where 37-year-old Lyndon Flavell was one of six torchbearers.

Mr Flavell, from Wolverhampton, has raised money for Breast Cancer Care after his wife died of cancer in January 2009.

The flame then moved on to Telford, Stafford, Stoke and then Crewe as it headed north west.


Full house: Dimitrios Eforakopoulos runs through Much Wenlock. Proud: Lyndon Flavell in front of the iron bridge and, right, Ricky Furgusson between Much Wenlock and Telford.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:May 31, 2012
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