Olympic torchbearer has burning desire to complete big flame challenge

A LADBROKE teenager who has been selected as an Olympic torchbearer has vowed to complete his own long-distance fundraising challenge before carrying the real flame.

Nick Howden-Steenstra, 18, and his friend Alex Hutchinson organised their own flame-carrying trip from Athens to London during Lent in order to raise money for Amnesty International and Macmillan Cancer Support in its centenary year, but they came to a halt at Olympia.

Alex broke his hand while cycling through the ancient Greek town, where the Olympics used to be held, but a swift dash back to Britain to get him assessed will not hamper their progress, according to Nick.

The former Oxford School of Drama student said: “I’m really looking forward to carrying the real torch, but we have a bit of work to do before that.

“We got about 500 miles into our challenge and unfortunately Alex broke his hand, but the hospital said it didn’t require surgery and we are still planning complete it before the end of Lent on April 7 - instead of giving up cakes we decided to do a 4,000k triathlon.

“We were planning to cycle from Athens to Switzerland, run through Switzerland, Belgium and France and row across the channel and the River Thames.

“Obviously Alex’s injury impacts on his potential to row so we’ll need to assess the damage and work out a plan. I’m a qualified sailor so we could sail across the channel.”

This is not Nick’s first long-distance charitable act.

He covered the 1,235 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 63 days in 2009 for Macmillan.

He said: “I’ve not had too many dealings with Macmillan, it’s just a great cause.

“I love the outdoors and doing pretty crazy stuff, so when I asked people for a charity to do it for Macmillan was the outstanding choice, it always popped up.”

Nick was selected to carry the Olympic Torch courtesy of Lloyds TSB, a partner of the London 2012 Games.