Lighting the way for flame
A SPORT-MAD Johnstone teen is dreaming of gold after grasping a unique opportunity to carry the Olympic torch.
Lucky athlete Natalie Still, 18, beat off thousands of rival nominees in winning the race to carry the iconic flame when it reaches Renfrewshire on its 8,000 mile tour of the country.
And the former Johnstone High pupil admitted it will be a special day for her, especially as it is taking place so close to her hometown.
She told the Gazette: "I'm blown away - it's a once in a lifetime opportunity.
"Getting to carry the torch through Lochwinnoch makes the experience even more special since it is close to my home town - so friends and family can come and watch and it is also one of the villages where I've worked to get children involved in sport over the last four years.
"When I realised the Olympics were coming to London I thought it was perfect opportunity to inspire more children to take part in sport and hopefully instil in them the passion that I have for sport and the Olympics.
"I've had a passion for sport from a young age and this increased as I moved through high school. I've been inspired by the Active Schools staff and PE staff at Johnstone High School and began to think I could do for others what they had done for me.
"I've gained so many life skills and great experiences from taking part in, and leading sports sessions over the last few years and I think it's something everybody should get involved in."
Since starting to volunteer in her community at the age of 15, caring Natalie has gone on to complete over 1000 hours of voluntary work in schools and community clubs.
Not content with inspiring secondary pupils, she went to work in primary schools and set up and ran a schools netball festival that over 100 local children attended.
Last year Natalie organised an Olympic event for Howwood Primary which saw children participate in track and field events.
She also set-up the Olympia Challenge in June last year, involving over 1000 Johnstone High pupils running between 1 and 5 miles to reach a combined total of 2419 miles.
This year she's organising a 'Renfrewshire Torch Relay' between five local primaries to take place in the summer term and coincide with the Olympic Torch Relay.
She added: "Being selected as an Olympic Torchbearer is a dream come true."
The torch will arrive inthe village from Beith on the A760 before travelling along Main Street (B786), High Street (B766), and will continue on the B786 along Johnshill where the flame will then pass into Kilmacolm. Around 115 Torchbearers a day will carry the Flame during its 8,000 mile trip around the UK.