Australia’s track and field team has had an early call-up for Olympic duty, as the government seeks creative ways to foil pro-Tibet protesters intent on extinguishing the Olympic flame.
“Obviously we need to protect the Olympic torch from unruly protests,” said Athletics Australia President Robin Fildes. “What better way to do that than by getting Australia’s fastest individuals to sprint with the torch in hand?”
High profile sprinter Jon Steffensen said he was excited by the prospect of carrying the torch for his country, even if only for the 43 seconds it takes him to run 400 metres.
“I think the prospect of being chased by angry pro-Tibet protesters will bring a real edge to my performance,” he said. “It’s the sort of experience you normally can’t replicate outside of competition.”
5000 metre runner Craig Mottram said that protecting the torch should take precedence over providing a pleasing spectacle.
“It won’t be much fun for spectators who line up for the procession,” he said. “When those sprinting lads come past, it’s like being at the formula one racing. But let’s face it, watching someone run ten-deep in police isn’t a great sight either.”
However, there is concern in some circles that Australia’s finest runners may not be fine enough.
“I heard America’s 137th fastest 100 metre sprinter was sympathetic to Tibetan independence. If the protesters recruit him, no Australian runner will be able to hold him off,” said one police insider.