Friday night's opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics was a spectacle witnessed by nearly 27 million people all over the world.
One area college student played a central role in bringing the Olympic flame to the stadium to light the torch and officially open the Games.
Tennessee Temple senior basketball player Amber Charles was the final torchbearer Friday as the flame was delivered to London City Hall after being transported on the River Thames by a barge thatt was rowed by 16-person crew.
Charles was the last person to carry the flame before it was seen traveling to the Olympic Stadium on a speedboat driven by British soccer superstar David Beckham.
"I spoke to her by phone, and she's extremely proud and excited," said Kenrick Liburd, who coaches women's basketball and men's soccer at Temple. "She said it was intense, and she was just glad she didn't drop the torch."
Charles, 22, has been a part of the London Olympic movement for nearly a decade. In 2004 as a child ambassador, she presented London's 600-page bid to host the Games to the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. She traveled to Singapore in 2005 as a part of London's delegation when the city was awarded Games.
Charles is from the East Ham section of London in the borough of Newham near where the new Olympic Stadium now stands.
Charles has stayed involved with the Olympic movement as well as furthering her athletic dreams as she hopes to make the British women's basketball team for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
She was a member of England's under-16 basketball team and played in the British national championships as a member of the Haringey Angels prior to coming to Chattanooga as a scholarship basketball player for Liburd at Tennessee Temple. She will return to Chattanooga in late August to begin her senior year and prepare for her final season of college basketball.
"I think its just a great opportunity for her," Liburd said. "She's a great person and a great student.
"She's the picture of a student-athlete and a great ambasador for us. It's exciting for her to have this opportunity."
Jim Tanner has worked as assistant sports editor at the Times Free Press since late 2006. He started at the Times Free Press in 2001 and worked as a news copy/design editor from 2001 through 2006. In addition to working as a night and weekend editor producing local and national sports coverage for print and online readers, Jim occasionally writes local sports and outdoors stories. Jim grew up in Ringgold, Ga., and is a graduate ...
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