Baton Rouge man carries Olympic Torch | Arts & Culture
It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Something that John Eric James never imagined he’d ever do. The Baton Rouge native was among 8,000 people selected to participate in the Olympic Torch Relay.
The torchbearer helped carry the Olympic flame through the United Kingdom in June. The torch travels to more than 1,000 cities on its way to its final destination -- the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
“I’m a small town guy from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and here I am part of the Olympic experience in London,” James told 9News Neighborhoods. “It was overly exciting.”
He grew up in North Baton Rouge, graduating from Baton Rouge High School and Southern University. He currently lives in Midland, Michigan where he is a purchasing director for Dow Chemical Company.
In fact, he was chosen by his colleagues to represent the company and the country. James was one of 10 employees selected from among 2,500 who were nominated.
“It was just awesome excitement because I’ve never participated in anything quite like this before,” he says.
He got the good news in November. He met monthly with Olympic officials to prepare for the big day.
“I was feeling like I was the only guy, the only person in the world protecting this flame,” he says. “ It felt like the torch got heavier and heavier because you look at the magnitude of what you’re doing and that you’re the person that’s making sure that flame is carried to the next spot safely,” he says.
“I was feeling excitement and nervousness, but probably more nervous because I didn’t want to drop it.”
By the way, he didn’t drop it. He finished the 400-meter leg of his journey in South Shields (northeast of England) before passing it on to the next torch runner.
See more on this story on 9News Sunday Morning (July 29) at 7 a.m.