Famous names sprinkled among torchbearer list

Former Mayor Willie Brown, a Daly City marine biologist, a Palo Alto pediatric surgeon and a star San Francisco basketball player whose father was recently gunned down are among the 41 people chosen to carry the Olympic torch during its only North American stop Wednesday in San Francisco.

The group was chosen from a pool of 543 applicants who entered an essay contest that included a 200-word component that asked for answers to questions such as, “How is your personal journey making your community, your country and the world more sustainable?”

The other 39 are selected by the event’s sponsors and the Olympic committee. Among those chosen to run a portion of the six-mile route is 17-year-old Sacred Heart Cathedral High School basketball player Tierra Rogers, whose father was recently killed during halftime at one of her games. Todd Hallenback, 25, a marine biologist who does research at Fisherman’s Wharf, was also among those chosen, along with Todd Lincoln, 46, a pediatric surgeon who brings his work to regions in Central America and Asia.

Activists critical of China’s policies toward Tibet and Sudan have called on Newsom and city officials to speak out against the China human rights abuses during the torch ceremony, and the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution last week saying The City should receive the torch with “alarm and protest” to condemn China’s human rights abuses.

Newsom said that while there has been focus on the torch as it relates to human rights issues, “there has not been enough focus on the spirit of the Olympics.” He added that The City should “celebrate” the torchbearers’ “right to participate in the torch relay.”

The Olympic torch route will begin at 1 p.m. Wednesday at McCovey Cove behind AT&T Park, travel up The Embarcadero to Aquatic Park and after coming down Bay Street, backtracking until it ends in Justin Herman Plaza.

In addition to protests expected Wednesday, the days leading up to the torch relay will include large-scale demonstrations. The protests include a Human Rights Torch Relay event today and a Tibetan Freedom Ceremony on Tuesday, which will include actor Richard Gere and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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