HE might be the fastest man in the world, but that didn’t prevent Usain Bolt stopping to say hello to a group of Wigan youngsters.
The pupils from Beech Hill Primary School were part of a team of 2,000 students who formed a Guard of Honour at the start of the Athletes’ Parade, lining the route with lanterns and banners that they had created to welcome 10,500 athletes into the Olympic Stadium.
And during their stay in London the lucky children met Olympic sprinting ace Usain and Liverpool footballer Luis Suarez.
Teacher Karen Foster-Slonker, said: “What an honour to be one of only 2,000 people to be chosen to represent not only our school but also our country.
“Luis Suarez for Team Uruguay and Usain Bolt for Team Jamaica stopped signing autographs for other Olympians in order to come and shake the hands of our wonderful ambassadors.
“It was an amazing experience and one that the children will treasure for the rest of their lives. They now have Olympic 2012 programmes to keep as heirlooms to pass down to future generations. We are extremely grateful to Hutchinson Engineering, where my husband Adam works, as they generously offered sponsorship in order for the children to be able to take up this fantastic opportunity at London 2012.
“This was a once in a lifetime event that the children of Beech Hill truly deserved. This is something that they will never forget and Hutchinson’s helped to make that happen.”
Businessman Dean Drinkwater, boss at Hutchinsons Engineering donated £500 to the school to help pay for transport, accommodation and personalised sweatshirts.
Beech Hill Primary School was selected to take part in the Olympics through the reward and recognition programme of the Get Set network, the official London 2012 education programme because they demonstrated a commitment to living the Olympic and Paralympic Values and incorporating them into their school lives and curriculum. Beech Hill teacher, Gill Fitzpatrick, nominated the school.
On behalf of the Games, Seb Coe said: “The Guard of Honour provided a stunning welcome to the Games and was a perfect curtain raiser for the Athletes’ Parade.”
Mrs Foster-Slonker added: “We will be sharing our marvellous Olympic stories with the rest of the school when we return in September. The two days were magical for the teachers and the children.”
Meanwhile another Wiganer joined in with members of the Royal Family to witness Jessica Ennis’ triumph.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prime Minister David Cameron and Olympics supremo Lord Coe were in the Olympic arena on Saturday, alongside, Wiganer Alison Bott, as the Sheffield star claimed gold.
Alison, 32, described the moment as “magical”.
Ms Bott said: “She’s done so well.
“I thought she might come in second or third after she was overtaken on the final lap, but she just pulled out all the stops.
“It was fantastic. She won in such style.”