Olympic torch chance worth the weight for champ Louis
By Derby Telegraph | Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 07:30
A FORMER weightlifter who won two Olympic medals in a glittering career says being part of the 2012 Torch Relay is "priceless" to him.
Main picture, Louis Martin at The Room in the Park gym on Handford Street. Right, top and middle, Louis in his weightlifting heyday and bottom, pictured with his Olympic silver medal.
Louis Martin, of Castle Court, Heanor, is among the 8,000 torchbearers chosen to carry the Olympic flame on its tour of the UK ahead of the London Games.
And the 75-year-old says the honour makes him just as proud as when he won bronze at the 1960 Rome Olympics and silver at Tokyo 1964.
Mr Martin – who also won four world mid-heavy championships and four European titles – said: "When I was invited to carry the Olympic torch I thought it was a great honour.
"You can't buy it – it's priceless. It will be one of my best Olympic experiences."
Unlike most torchbearers, Mr Martin has had some experience in taking part in mass events celebrating a huge sporting occasion, such as the Olympic Games.
He said: "I carried the Great Britain flag at the Commonwealth Games in 1966. But carrying the Olympic flame will be something else."
Over the years, Mr Martin, who was born in Jamaica, has had to overcome racial prejudice when, in November 1964, he married Derby girl Ann Robinson at what is today known as the Central United Reformed Church.
Eyebrows were raised at a time when mixed-race relationships were frowned upon.
Their relationship broke new ground and the couple were interviewed in the first colour supplement produced by the Sunday Times.
Their story was considered so important that the Sunday Times sent their top photographer, Lord Snowdon, then the husband of the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, to take the pictures.
After retiring from weightlifting, Mr Martin opened a small gym near his home in Rowditch Avenue, Derby, so that he could pass on his skills to Derby's deprived youngsters.
The gym provided access for those who could not afford the city's other facilities.
He ran it for many years until he gave it up in 2004 – after 34 years of rearing champions – to care for his ill wife, who died three years later.
Despite now taking a back-seat in the sport, Mr Martin remains the president of The British Weightlifting Association, which nominated him to carry the torch.
On Friday, June 29, the flame will travel around Derbyshire, with at least 65 torchbearers running approximately 300 metres with it at various locations along the route.
They include Glapwell, Bolsover, Calow, Chesterfield, Matlock, Chatsworth, Bakewell, Buxton, Ashbourne and into Derby, where televised celebrations will be held in the Market Place and Darley Park.
The torch will leave Derby early the next day and travel through South Derbyshire to Burton.