Seydanur carries the torch.
Seydanur Kabasakal, a high school student from Turkey selected as part of the International Inspiration programme, was one of 20 torchbearers who carried the Olympic Flame between Lincoln and Nottingham.
‘Today we were introduced to our torch. It was very exciting. I thought it would be heavy but it wasn’t,’ wrote 16-year-old Seydanur Kabasakal in her diary. She was one of the 20 Olympic torchbearers who carried the Flame from Lincoln to Nottinghamon its 41st day, 28 June.
The high school student, who is also the co-president of the Child Rights Committee of Ankara, was very well aware that she was becoming part of Olympic history as she prepared to leave Turkey for the big day. ‘I tagged my location on Facebook,’ wrote Seydanur in her diary from Ankara’s Esenboga Airport. ‘Because we’re really cool now.’
The Olympic Flame has been carried around the UK since 19 May. When it reaches the Olympic Stadium on 27 July for the Opening Ceremony, a staggering 8,000 people will have carried the torch. The torchbearers are chosen from role models who have somehow served as inspirations in diverse areas, from sport and education to environment and health.
Twenty of the torchbearers, including Seydanur, have been selected as part of the International Inspiration project, the official London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games legacy program implemented in 20 countries around the world. International Inspiration in Turkey is run by the British Council, UNICEF Turkey, Ministry of National Education, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Family and Social Policies and Turkey’s National Olympic and Paralympic Committees.
Before heading off to the UK, Seydanur told us she was ‘looking forward to meeting people and seeing how London is preparing for the Olympic Games.’ Two days after her arrival in London and two days before the relay, she wrote in her diary, ‘I’m a Londoner now.’
Having had a tour of London, and ‘learning almost all the places,’ the most impressive part of London for her was the Olympic Countdown Clock in Trafalgar Square. ‘London is a really beautiful city. It’s perfect with its order and transportation and everything,’ wrote the young observer from a country with a renowned traffic problem.
How does Seydanur see the International Inspiration project? ‘I see International Inspiration as a project that emphasises the importance and unparallel nature of sports and physical activity for children and young people, advocating an active lifestyle,’ she said before her trip to the UK. ‘The project also helps us develop various personal skills like leadership, volunteering, participation and research through sports and physical activity.’
Seydanur had a taste of diversity on her first day when she met the fellow torchbearers. ‘I think together, we give the best message with our appearance. No matter how different we are, we can understand each other and do things,’ she wrote, referring to her peers from such far off places as Brazil, Egypt and Zambia.
‘When I first found out about that I was selected for the torch relay, I was on clouds. I had been selected for something very exciting, something truly huge,’ Seydanur reflected. As the big day came, and the 20 youth were brought together with the other torchbearers, the truth hit. ‘The photos, the running lanes, everything was so vivid. I was fifth in the row. I was happy for that because 5 is my lucky number,’ she said. She was also happy for the dreaded rain sparing them for the day: ‘We were so lucky that it wasn’t raining when we were running.’
‘This incredible experience will stay with me for life. I’m aware that this opportunity will open doors both in my education and my career in the future,’ Seydanur said. And of her fellow torchbearers, Seydanur reflected, ‘It will be hard leaving them.’
Read a reflection from Luan, the torchbearer from Brazil who was paired with Seydanur during the relay, and others from International Inspiration participants.