Friendship glowed after flare-up
RUNNING with the Olympic Torch in 2000 was an honour Nobbys Creek doctor Jon Stephenson wanted to share with blind friend and former Doon Doon Paralympian Kevin Hamilton.
The pair fought tooth and nail against the Sydney Games Organising Committee to run together, after they initially dismissed the idea.
But Dr Stephenson, who first ran with Mr Hamilton as a guide runner in the 1988 Paralympics in Seoul, was determined to thank his mate for the opportunity to be part of the world stage.
“Ever since then I had been looking for a way to repay him for what he did for me, and running with the torch was the way,” Dr Stephenson said.
The pair were eventually allowed to run together, with Mr Hamilton being the one recognised as the official torch bearer instead of Dr Stephenson, who originally earned the right. Their leg of the relay took them through Coolangatta in the pouring rain with thousands of revellers cheering on.
Even a decade on, Dr Stephenson said he would go through it all again for the opportunity to run with his friend. Mr Hamilton, who relocated to St Helens, Tasmania two years ago, said running alongside his mate with the torch and Aboriginal flag was an incredible buzz.
“It was like being in the Paralympics again,” he said.