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Coates carries Olympic torch
Paul Mulvey
05:11 AEST Thu Jul 26 2012

John Coates has experienced many of Australia's greatest Olympic moments but, for him, only one can beat his walk through a rapturous crowd in multicultural north London carrying the Olympic torch.

"It's right up there. Just behind Cathy," Coates said of his five-minute "fast canter" on Wednesday through a boisterous and enthusiastic crowd in Enfield.

Cathy, of course, is Freeman. And the moment was her night of triumph at the Games over which Coates presided in Sydney in 2000.

The Australian Olympic Committee president declined his only other invitation to run with the torch in Sydney because he "didn't feel comfortable doing it at our Games".

"But I felt very relaxed out there today," he said.

With new joints put in each hip in December and February, Coates, 62, was still on crutches three weeks ago and when the security guard accompanying him down Fore Street asked whether he'd be running, he replied: "I'll be walking."

"I got there," he said at the end.

And he loved getting there.

From the moment he collected the torch from runner No.118, runner No.119 gave a thumbs up to the cheering crowd and launched into a massive smile as he beamed his way all the way through his 300-metre course.

"It was much more exciting than I ever thought it would be," he said.

"There were people from all walks of life, that was the important thing. And the kids when they got to touch it, they were really inspired."

It was a long way from the anarchic Enfield of August last year when the suburb was hit by some of the worst of the London riots.

It was all feel-good and warmth on Wednesday on the hottest day of the year.

When Coates made it to the footpath after handing over to No.120, Cathy, he was besieged by locals wanting their photo with him.

And they'd all ask their mate: "Who is he?"

It didn't matter to them he's soon to be elected vice-president of the International Olympic Committee and has been to every Games since 1976.

On Wednesday, he brought the Olympics to them.

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Opening Ceremony
Archery
Athletics
Badminton
Basketball
Beach Volleyball
Boxing
BMX
Cycling
Diving
Equestrian
Fencing
Football
Gymnastics
Handball
Hockey
Judo
Modern Pentathlon
Rowing/Canoe/Kayak
Sailing
Shooting
Swimming
Synchro
Table Tennis
Taekwondo
Tennis
Triathlon
Volleyball
Water Polo
Weightlifting
Wrestling
Closing ceremony
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