The iconic Olympic torch, the much-loved symbol of the largest sporting event on Earth, disappeared briefly today as it continued its journey to the opening ceremony in London.
With barely a week to go until the games begin, the carrier of the torch was found in a confused state by the side of the road, claiming he had ‘lost the torch’. A frantic search ensued, involving police and members of the armed forces, before the torch was located several miles away in Southend.
Local businessmen Simon Gilson and Terry Hope, of PMT, a leading musical instrument retailer headquartered in Southend, claimed to have ‘found’ the torch while out on a training session for a charity bike ride in which they will soon participate. They decided to return the torch to the police after being cornered following a dramatic chase. Speaking after the incident, Simon Gilson commented that although the police didn’t need to draw their firearms, he understood the panic surrounding the disappearance of the torch:
“We were just out on our daily training session for the Three Men on a Bike charity ride and we saw the torch glinting by the roadside. Of course, we picked it up to keep it safe, as there are all sorts around here who would have melted it down. We continued with our ride as training is important – the total ride goes from John O’Groats to Land’s End - and next thing we knew the Old Bill was on our tail. With helicopters. We obviously panicked and there was a bit of drama down the main shopping drag in Southend. When we saw guns, we got off the bike and handed it over. We were doing them a favour.”
Although Gilson couldn’t explain how the torch had got to Southend, all charges have now been dropped and the Games – and the Three men on a Bike charity ride - can now go ahead.
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