New titles: Gloves on by Jamie Johnson
Jamie, you are about to launch your first book ‘Gloves on’, a true story about exclusion, broken dreams, social conditioning and hope.
In your book you describe how after several severe beatings in the ring, as a female boxer, your determination helped you master your ability to stand on your own two feet! Thought-out your entire life, no matter what is happening, you refuse to give up. Your story takes us back to the beginning of your boxing carrier all the way to the London Olympics when you carried the Olympic Torch in 2012.
Can you tell us more about that day?
The first torchbearer was given a torch and then she was escorted off the bus. She was number one. I was number 72. We carried on driving till the next drop off point just continuously waving and smiling at the crowds.
Everytime a torchbearer got up to get off we would all clap and cheer them. We told each other our nomination stories, each one was truly inspiring…’Number 69’ shouted the driver. ‘Oh my God, it was nearly me’ my mouth was so dry, I did not need the toilet amazingly! I was to run from Pembroke Road for 300yds ending up half way down London Road. This was smack bang in the centre of Sevenoaks! I rang Kellie. ’We are just going up Sevenoaks Hill’ I whispered, maybe 5 minutes away!’ The tension was mounting!
‘Number 72’ shouted the man! I was already on my feet…I was handed ‘my’ torch, the bus stopped, and the doors opened… as I stepped out I was mesmerised by the sight of the wonderful crowds of people cheering.
I was standing, the security team surrounding me, telling me that we had an 8 minute wait before the Torchbearer before me would arrive with the Olympic Flame! Kellie, Frankie and Charlie West had been waiting all day on the corner, so they got to me straight away. ‘Where is Charlie?!’ I shouted. ‘Lucy is looking after him in the pram’ said Kellie. Then my nieces Elouise and Lana appeared with Janet and my sister Sharon.
I started talking to the people in the crowds, everyone was so enthusiastic and happy. Suddenly, a cameraman came up to me and started to ask me questions, I said what a great honour it was to carry the Olympic Torch. I said how wonderful the crowds were and how the British public were the best in the World! It apparently went out on BBC South East News!
Then the security said the torchbearer is 2 minutes away. ‘What do I do’ I said. ‘Don’t worry, we will show you’ said the security! We all turned towards the Sevenoaks hill where the girl was coming from, the roars of the crowd got louder and louder and there she was, running towards me with her torch alight!
Immediately, we embraced the cheers of exuberance from the crowd. Security helped us put the torches together…’It is called the kiss’ they said…suddenly my torch was alight!
One of the security men looked me straight in the eye and said
‘Jamie, you are now in charge of the Olympic Flame’!
Those words are immortalised into my brain forever!
‘Can you run at a steady pace?’ they asked. ‘No, my back and knees are not good enough’ I hurriedly explained.
‘Walk fast if you can’ they said.
I was off! I held the torch high in the air, moving it from my right hand to my left hand, waving and cheering back to the crowd. I was shouting ‘Thank you, so much, I love you all!’
You could say I got carried away with the occasion!
Suddenly, on the right I saw Graham and his sisters Denise and Jackie and her daughter Clare and Lyndsey our other niece, hazel’s Daughter! They appeared to be running along with me behind the crowd!
Then on the left I saw Ken and Granma Joanie! Granma Joanie was just getting up from a deck chair and waving, I shouted ‘Ken, Granma Joanie!’ Suddenly, as the road sloped downwards, my legs began to move faster and faster; I was running! I could not believe it. It must have been the euphoria of it all! And then I turned to go down London Road and ran even faster still waving to everybody. I reached my end point a little out of breath and feeling very hot!
The next Torchbearer was waiting, we did the ‘kiss’ and just before entering the bus, Denise, Jackie, Graham and Clare all appeared out of the crowd… completely out of breath; they had run all the way with me dodging the crowds! We hugged and then I was whisked onto the bus, I was absolutely elated, and I will always remember that extraordinary day- is in my heart to stay