Experience mixed for torchbearers

Though Tina Candrea looked relaxed sipping a glass of wine in the lobby of the San Francisco Hilton, she admitted to some nerves after waiting hours for her Olympic torch-bearing husband, U.S. softball coach Mike Candrea.

“I wasn’t so concerned about his safety, as much as the event actually taking place,” she said.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory basketball star Tierra Rogers, whose father was shot to death during halftime of her game, carried the torch down Marina Boulevard.

“It was so exciting — a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Rogers said of the relay. “It felt so good and I wasn’t scared at all.”

City Administrator Ed Lee carried the torch for The City but did not disapprove of human-rights abuses in China as requested under a Board of Supervisors resolution.

But not all the torchbearers were happy with the relay. At least three dropped out of the race because of safety and political concerns. The participants were told they couldn’t bring their phones and there was little communication with their loved ones.

Two torchbearers, Andrew Michael and Majora Carter, took Tibetan flags from their sleeves and waved them. Carter, a New York City-based activist was escorted away from the relay after showing the flag. She said she was shocked at the reaction.

“I thought because this is America we would have our constitutional right to voice our opinion,” Carter said.

But for retired New York firefighter Richard Doran, 57, the torch run was a “dream fulfilled.” He walked the last 343 steps of the relay in honor of the 343 members of the Fire Department of New York who died on Sept. 11, 2001. It was his first trip to San Francisco and he never had a thought that protesters would mar the event.

“I’m 99 percent in favor of expressing your views, but I would be pretty angry if one of those protesters tried to ruin the memory of those 343 firefighters,” he said.

bbegin@examiner.com

Staff Writer Will Reisman contributed to this report.

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