Not a smart idea to carry the torch on a white water raft. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s astounding that no one saw this coming. As the Olympic torch splashed through the canoe slalom venue in Hertfordshire today on board a raft as part of its journey around the country, spraying water splashed out the famed Eternal Flame.
In the first setback for the day, the torch convoy was held up for 20 minutes after two motorbike riders collided near Chelmsford, Essex, at around 7.40am, and had to be rushed to hospital with suspected broken bones.
Ambulances and a fire engine were called, and convoy doctors treated the male and female riders at the scene before the relay was able to proceed.
Later, the torch arrived at Lee Valley White Water Centre near Waltham Cross, the canoe slalom venue, where it suffered the further hiccup.
Despite the best efforts of British junior team canoeist Zachary Franklin, who held the flame aloft as the British men’s rafting team propelled him through the rapids, water splashing into the boat extinguished the flame.
‘It is not uncommon for a flame to go out and this can happen for a number of reasons,’ a LOCOG spokesman said. being doused with water seems to be one of those reasons.
‘In this instance it was due to water being splashed into the boat from the slalom course.
‘It was relit from the mother flame, which is kept in a specially designed miners’ lantern and successfully taken down the course on the second attempt.’
It isn’t the first time the Olympic flame has gone out as it makes its way through the UK.
Back on May 21, just three days into the relay, the flame on a torch attached to para-badminton star David Follett’s wheelchair burned out while in Devon.
In another early hitch to proceedings, the flame was blown out by a gust of wind as it was being lit for the first time in Greece. It had to be relit before being handed to a torchbearer.
Today the relay was travelling from Chelmsford to Cambridge, en route to London for the Olympic opening ceremony.
Jamie Oliver had his own issues during his stint through Newport, the Essex village where he went to school, braving wet and wild weather as he ran.
The 37-year-old health eating champion kept smiling despite the tough going.
Watched by his wife Jools and family, a bedraggled-looking Oliver said: ‘I can’t believe how much it’s raining but it’s great to be here in my old town and this is a real privilege.
‘I’ll run past my old school and finish at the pub where, to be honest, I’d like to be right now.’
Oliver lives in nearby Clavering with his wife Jules, daughters Poppy, Daisy and Petal, and son Buddy, while his parents own a pub and restaurant nearby.
In its final stop for the day at Cambridge, the flame was again due to take to the water, but this time at a more sedate pace on a punt ride.