MORE than 400 lucky Ulster folk of all ages and backgrounds have been chosen to carry the Olympic torch across Northern Ireland.
The iconic flame will come within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the population as it is carried in a relay effort across the Province.
Each torch-bearer will run or walk around 300 metres before passing it on to the next person.
Former rugby international Trevor Ringland, 12-year-old up-and-coming gymnastic star Ewan McAteer and Dundonald sisters Brooke and Dempsey Andrews are just four of the bearers selected.
Mr Ringland will carry the torch through Larne on June 3, which is the town where he grew up. He said watching the Olympics as a child he had never thought one day he might get to carry that famous Olympic torch himself.
“I just found out for definite last week although I knew that someone had put my name forward for it,” he said.
“I feel very honoured and delighted to be involved, and now I think I am going to have to get into training for it.
“Sport plays such a positive role in society and the Olympics has the potential to play a very constructive role here now.”
Young Ewan McAteer from Lisburn received two pieces of good news last week. As well as being selected to carry the torch through Portadown, he will also represent Methodist College and Northern Ireland in gymnastics at the UK School Games to be held in the London Olympic stadium in May.
The young sportsman trains four hours a day and six days a week working towards his dream of becoming the first male gymnast from Northern Ireland to represent his country at the Olympics in 2020.
Yet he got into the sport by chance following just one day spent at a summer scheme.
His mother Janet told the News Letter within an hour the coaches in Lisburn had noticed exceptional natural flexibility and speed and had taken him aside.
She agreed to let him start training with them and now he is one of the top male gymnasts in Northern Ireland.
And Dundonald sisters Dempsey, 15, and Brooke Andrews, 14, will both get a chance to carry the torch.
Ice-skater Dempsey will carry the torch through Comber while her sister, dancer Brooke, will carry it through their home locality of Dundonald, both on June 3.
Proud parents Nicola and Billy have said the family is delighted by the news and that it will be a very special day for them.
The Olympic torch will arrive in Belfast on June 3, calling at Stormont and passing through Carrickfergus, Larne, Ballygally, Cushendall and Bushmills to Portrush, where it will remain overnight.
The following day (June 4) it will leave Coleraine, travelling through Castlerock and Limavady before reaching Londonderry for its second overnight stop in the Province.
On June 5, the torch will travel south and east as it passes through Strabane, Omagh, Enniskillen, Portadown and Armagh on its way to Newry.
From Newry, the flame will cross the border and head for Dublin.
The torch will spend most of the morning in the Irish capital before heading back to Belfast.
The flame leaves Northern Ireland for Scotland on June 7, but not before travelling to Newcastle, Saintfield, Antrim, Ballymena and ending its Northern Ireland journey in the Co Antrim village of Moorfields.
Sports Minister Carál Ni Chuilín said the torch provides a “wonderful opportunity” to become involved with the London 2012 Games.
More information about the streets through which the torch-bearers will carry the Olympic Flame is available from http://www.london2012.com/olympictorchrelay or from your local council.
The torch will complete its journey round the UK at the Olympic opening ceremony in London on July 27.