Olympic torchbearers don’t seem fazed by protest threat

With the torch route unveiled, the new Olympic list shrouded in secrecy is the ledger of runners who have been chosen to carry the flame along The City’s waterfront.

The torch will travel the six miles through a relay of 80 runners, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Half of the runners were chosen through a city-sponsored contest that included a 200-word essay that asked applicants such questions as “How is your personal journey making your community, your country and the world more sustainable?”

Applicants could be from anywhere in North America; 536 people entered the contest. The winners were chosen by a local panel and submitted to the Beijing Olympic Committee on Games for approval, according to relay officials, who say the list will be revealed “soon.”

Another 39 runners were chosen by the event’s corporate sponsors, along with the U.S. Olympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee and the Beijing Olympic Committee on Games.

Along with well-wishers, protesters have said they will line the route to draw attention to human rights abuses by China.

Samsung-sponsored torchbearer Katie Gosling, 19, a Palo Alto native, said she is nervous about having the flame go out when it’s passed between torches, but not about the throngs of protestors.

“It’s San Francisco so there’s always people protesting stuff,” said Gosling, who was chosen for the task for calling 911 with her father when they saw a rock climber fall. The sophomore at Wellesley College said she wouldn’t make any statements about human rights issues.

Bonnie Bobbit, a Coca-Cola-sponsored cycling enthusiast from Fayetteville, Ga., said that although “what is happening between China and Tibet is unfortunate, we’re not out there to address political issues of what’s going on.”

“What we’re doing is supporting the great cause of the Olympics,” Bobbit said, adding that she supports the rights of protesters to “express themselves.”

dsmith@examiner.com

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