THE Ulster teenager who helped light the Olympic Cauldron at the climax of Friday night’s opening ceremony has spoken about the honour of being nominated to carry out the important task.
Katie Kirk, 18, from Holywood in County Down, Northern Ireland, was nominated by Dame Mary Peters, who won gold in the women’s pentathlon at the 1972 Munich Games.
Miss Kirk, part of the gold medal-winning team in the 4x400m relay at the European Junior Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, last year, said: “It was really exciting. The atmosphere was brilliant.
“It was just such an honour to be chosen to do it. I didn’t understand just what an honour it was until now.”
She said she had got to know Dame Mary after running at the Mary Peters Track in Belfast, which was built in her honour.
“I’m so honoured that Mary chose me,” she added.
Miss Kirk said she managed to enjoy most of the ceremony before the nerves set in.
She said: “We had seats so got to watch all the dancing and music and had time to soak in the atmosphere. When I ran my knees were shaking, it was very nerve-wracking.”
Miss Kirk, who was also selected to run in the 400m and 4x400m relay at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, in 2010, said she has not been able to compete this summer due to injury but expects to be back on the track in time for the next athletics season.
She plans to take part in the Olympics as a competitor next time.
“I’m aiming for Rio. I’ll be the right age then, and more mature and at my peak.
“When I was watching all the athletes come round, I was thinking, ‘that could be me one day’.”