Torch brings runners pride and risk

April 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
For Wednesday's Olympic torch run, it's a security nightmare for police, but for those who will participate, it's an exciting honor.

29-year-old Jessica Lorenz is blind. Carrying the Olympic torch is just one more achievement for her.

"We could honor the accomplishments of the people who are here who will carry the torch and the athletes that are represented and we can also hear the voices of the protesters," said Jessica Lorenz, a torchbearer.

She and other torchbearers gathered for an orientation meeting Tuesday afternoon.

"The torchbearers are being told where they will be running, what their route slots are. They are being given their uniforms, they are giving them some last minute information and I am sure they are asking a lot of questions," said David Parry, a spokesperson for the Olympic torch run.

"Sir could you turn that off so we could get some movement here?" said a representative of the ATF.

Outside the meeting, a representative from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms tried to stop journalists from interviewing torchbearers.

The relay starts here at McCovey Cove. These 79 torchbearers will have extra security and police officers, protecting them and the torch.

San Francisco does not want a repeat of what happened in London and Paris, when protesters extinguished the Olympic torch several times.

"I have no fear. At my age, no fear. I am just going to be focusing on the Olympians and the games that's what it's all about," said Shirly Olivo, a torchbearer.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown is also running.

"Not at all. Why would you think people who protest would do so with violence? I would not assume that," said Brown.

"Well did you see what happened in France?" asked ABC7's Lyanne Melendez.

"Well, that's a different country, a different set of people, this is San Francisco. We don't do violent things to people," said Brown.

Dean Karnazes is a world class marathon runner.

"If you want to take the torch away from me and squelch the Olympic flame you are squelching your own dreams, your hope and inspiration so let's not do that," said Dean Karnazes, a torchbearer.

The world will be watching.


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