Thousands of Stoke City fans will get the chance to see their manager Tony Pulis carrying the Olympic Torch through Stoke-on-Trent.
Welsh born Tony, who’s in his second spell with the Potteries based club, will lift the Olympic Torch on Thursday May 31, as it departs from the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in the City Centre at 7am.
Tony is thought to be the only Premier League manager to carry the Olympic Torch during the 2012 relay.
Upon hearing the news Tony Pulis said: “I am extremely honoured to be given the privilege of representing Stoke-on-Trent and to be among those offered this most prestigious of opportunities.
“This is an historic event for the whole of Britain and it is an immensely proud feeling to be able to say that you are carrying the Olympic Torch as part of that build-up.
“The body may well be a little weary due to the fact that we will be two days into our sponsored bike ride from John O’Groats and Land’s End, but the amazing feeling of being part of this very special occasion will certainly carry me along the streets of the city.”
He added: “What a summer it’s going to be. This honour comes on top of my son getting married and our first grandchild due to be born very soon as well.”
The announcement comes following the unexpected withdrawal by Stoke-on-Trent born 800m athlete and Olympic hopeful Emma Jackson, who has received an amazing invitation to race in the Diamond League Athletics meeting in Rome.
Emma said: “I am so disappointed that I can no longer carry the torch in Stoke-on-Trent. It is such a great honour and a privilege and something I was looking forward to so much. But for the same date I have received an invitation to race in the Diamond League Athletics meeting in Rome. Apart from the Olympics themselves this is one of the biggest meetings of 2012 and I have to take the opportunity to compete in such a world class event.
“I recognise that it is a great honour to carry the torch but I am now very close to actually competing in the Olympics, which would be a dream come true for me. My event, 800m, is very competitive in the UK and I have to seize every opportunity to impress the GB selectors. The only way that I can do this is to race against the best in the world and prove myself.
“I know the event in Stoke-on-Trent will be incredible and I just wish I could be in two places at once but the race in Rome is a massively vital step in my career.”
Councillor Mark Meredith, cabinet member for economic development, said: “To have someone of Tony’s calibre and close links to the city carrying the Torch is superb news. Stoke City fans obviously hold him in extremely high regard and it would be great to see them all lining the route in the City Centre on Thursday morning.”
He added: “It’s disappointing that Emma can’t carry the Torch in her home city but it’s important that she gets into peak condition for the actual Games. It would be wonderful to see her running in London and not only representing her country but also Stoke-on-Trent and hopefully bringing home a gold medal.”
The Flame will arrive in Stoke-on-Trent on Wednesday May 30 at 6:34pm on the Stoke Road junction of Station Road before moving on to Avenue Road, College Road, Cleveland Road and the Parkway before entering the event arena.
Following the evening celebration the Flame will be stored overnight in the city before taking in the City Centre, Burslem, Middleport and out of Stoke-on-Trent on Thursday May 31.
Further information about the event can be found at www.stoke.gov.uk/olympics2012.