Chattanooga athlete is final torchbearer at London Olympics
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A local athlete played a key role in the 2012 Olympics -- first helping to get the London bid and then carrying the final torch at the opening ceremony.
Amber Charles is from London, but she is entering her senior year at Tennessee Temple University, where she's captain of the women's basketball team. More than 40 million people watched her carry the final torch at the Olympic opening ceremony.
It was an opening ceremony watched by more people than any other in Olympic history. And front and center, with one of the most important jobs, Tennessee Temple University student Amber Charles. She was a final torchbearer lighting the cauldron. It's something even she says she would've never dreamed of doing just a few days earlier.
"When they called me and they were like 'would you mind doing it,' I was like of course I will! I was really excited and felt really honored as well," Tennessee Temple University student Amber Charles said.
Amber was among a group of young athletes that presented the bid for hosting the Olympics in London several years ago. Since then, the Tennessee Temple University gym has become her American home.
"To see her reap the rewards of something like this, I think good things come to people who work hard and she's somebody that deserves all of this," Tennessee Temple University Head Women's Basketball Coach Kenrick Liburd said.
Head coach and longtime family friend, Kenrick Liburd talked to Amber for the first time Sunday since her big moment. She described what was going through her mind as all eyes were on her.
"It was intense. The torch part was really nervous because if I drop it, it's going to be on national TV!" Amber said.
She says being among the world's greatest athletes encourages her to return to TTU in a few weeks and get to work on the court.
"I didn't get into the team this year but I'm hoping if I carry on playing a working hard, that I can maybe make the team, so I'm really psyched," Amber said.
Working hard is something Coach Liburd says Amber definitely knows how to do.
"She's a shining example of what we want of our strong student athletes," Coach Liburd said.
There is a picture on NBC's web site of Amber with London's mayor, David Beckham and the Olympic chairman. She says the excitement still hasn't sunk in and she hasn't watched herself back on TV, but plenty of classmates have called her from Chattanooga saying how proud they are of her.