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Clarence River Historical Society

Spiro Notaras, carried the Torch into the City of Grafton

"Even today I realise the honour the Council placed on me to carry the Torch.

My involvement with the Olympic Torch Relay commenced in early 1956, when Councils ‘YiI asked for potential runners who could run one mile in under six minutes to nominate.

At the time I was involved in various sporting organisations, firstly the Woolgoolga Surf Life Saving Club which in the summer months I competed in beach sprinting, swimming and rowing. In the winter I played rugby league for one of the local sides - “United”. I also played in the combined district team, which eventually led to me playing against the New Zealand touring team in 1956.

Earlier I had run against Hector Hogan at a Lismore Athletics Meeting and he defeated me, but we both were credited with the same time of 9.8 for 100 yards. He went on from that to win the Australian Championships in this event, which he held for 9 years and now I read he has been the only Australian, runner to ever run a place in the Olympic Sprint Event.

I did not have to carry out any special training at the time, because I was reasonably fit and at the time trial, I ran around 5 minutes 33 seconds for the distance I actually had to run.

My brother, Brinos, tells the story where the Ulmarra Shire thought he was the runner, mistaking him for me, and he actually had to run the coastal range section near Woolgoolga, and he has complained ever since.

We also felt, at the time, we were chosen to carry the Torch because of our Greek parents, who were well known and had settled in the district since 1905.

I have enclosed copies of letters from the Grafton City Council, showing all details of route, time, clothing etc. as well as the cards issued to me for the trial run. Also a copy of a photo that was in the local paper, showing the next runner and myself beside the Mayor of Grafton, who I had given the Torch to.

Even today I realise the honour the Council placed on me to carry the Torch into Grafton.

The only incident I remember is being reprimanded by the Official Party for actually not staying between the support vehicles. When I ran down the bridge behind the leading car, there were so many people watching, the car had to slow right down to a speed that I would have been walking, so I continued running on and arrived at the Civic Centre without the support vehicles.

At a later date, I was presented with a bronze medallion, which had my name and date engraved on the edge. I have treasured this and the photos all my life and now my son Paul who is 34 years old and a Company Director, has nominated tb carry the Torch in the 2000 Relay because of my involvement.

With my brother carrying the Torch up the coastal range, we have had many fond memories joking on our experience.

I hope this covers my involvement and I certainly cherish the opportunity I had to participate in this important event".

Spiro Notaras December 1999

Document held at, Clarence River Historical Society.

190 Fitzroy St.
Grafton NSW 2460

PO Box 396
Grafton NSW 2460

Ph: (02) 6642 5212
Fax:(02) 6642 5212

Email, Clarence River Historical Society

Schaeffer House holds many Kytherian photographs, documents, and realia (objects).

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