The Olympic torchbearers were announced yesterday and among the 28 people responsible for carrying the flame through the streets of Cardiff is Sara Pickard, a participation officer for Mencap Cymru.
Sara, who has Down’s Syndrome, said: “It’s amazing. It’s so, so good and important because of the fact I have Down’s Syndrome that I was chosen. It’s really good and something quite special.”
This week is Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week and tomorrow marks World Down Syndrome Day.
“It’s good not only that I get to be a torchbearer but that the announcement has come in this big week,” said Sara, 28. “It’s nice that I can celebrate this tomorrow - it’s worth celebrating. I know loads of people and my friends who want to come and watch me. My friends can’t believe i’m doing it. We’re thrilled.”
The specific routes for the torchbearers have not been given out, but Sara has been told that she will take charge of the flame for 300m of the Olympic Torch Relay on May 25, as it makes its way from Blaenavon to Cardiff.
Sara was nominated to be a torchbearer for her work with Mencap Cymru by Amanda Lewis, whose youngest son has Down’s Syndrome. As a participation officer, Sara speaks to young people in schools about politics, how to manage their money and how to prepare for work.
“It is nice to be recognised for the work I do,” said Sara, who is also a community councillor for Pentyrch, near Cardiff.
“It hasn’t sunk in. Now I’m seeing my words and picture in the papers, it’s a nice feeling because i’m doing it, but i’m also part of it - my story is there for people to see.”
Sara commended the decision to bring the Olympic Torch Relay to Cardiff. She said: “It’s an honour having the torch come through Cardiff, it is going to so many different places. I love the Olympics and it is brilliant that it is in London this year. I will follow the Olympics when it comes and watch the Paralympics when I can, especially the gymnastics which is my favourite sport.
“My Dad is a proper Swansea Jack, all my family is coming down from Swansea to watch me take the torch. It’s a big deal for my friends and family too. They’re proud and want to support me.”
Sara is no stranger to performing and is a member of Hijinx Theatre Company and having gone on tour with them twice.
“My dad told me to do it in slow motion and enjoy it,” she laughed. “It’s nice to be involved in different things. I’m very much looking forward to it.”