East Ham police officer reflects on ‘amazing time’ guarding Olympic Torch
It has been hard to avoid any mention of it, but not many people will be able to say they’ve shared a hotel room with the Olympic Torch.
But those are the duties needed if your job is to protect the flame on its journey around - a mostly wet - UK.
By the time Friday’s opening ceremony starts, Pc Sakira Suzia will have spent the last 70 days on the road.
The East Ham resident is one of a crop of Metropolitan Police officers entrusted with guarding the torch and keeping it lit on its journey from Lands End to Stratford.
And she says she would not swop a moment of it.
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“It’s been absolutely amazing,” she said. “If I’m honest I can’t believe that it’s gone so quickly.
“I have really met some amazing people and seen parts of the country I haven’t before.”
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But it is hard work too. Luckily, as an ex-marathon runner and kickboxer, Sakira, 28, was well prepared for journeys of up to 35 miles a day.
She also trained by boxing with fellow members.
The officers were split into five teams, including one based in London as a reserve. They tend to travel with the torch every other day.
Sakira, who serves in Islington, added: “We are trying to make the most of every single day. The crowds have helped because they have sometimes been there from 6am every day.
Living close to the Olympic Park might have already made this a memorable year. But she describes the Bolton leg as her most memorable.
She said: “The last person to carry it on that day was Amir Khan, who I am a big fan of, so you can imagine it was going to be mad.
“Loads of young people came running towards the torch because they wanted a piece of it. So we were policing as well as protecting the flame.
“But the team all came together and got the crowds back.”
Surprisingly, officers do not get any special treatment when it comes to Olympic tickets.
She said: “I guess we have got the best deal, protecting the flame and seeing the whole of the UK.
“As a police officer, you see the worst of things, suicides, the worst crimes possible, but I’ve seen the best of it here.”