Durham torchbearers ready for big day

Three students have been selected as torchbearers to represent Durham University when the Olympic Flame comes to the city this weekend.

The trio were all nominated by the University for their sporting achievements.

Dr Naomi Hoogesteger will be the first to take part in the relay when she collects the flame at Hild Bede college, in Durham. She hit the headlines when she was part of the crew that set a world record time for rowing across the Atlantic in 2011. The group also raised £40,000 for charity.

Naomi is combing post-graduate study with a teaching post at the University. In 2014, she is hoping to set a new world record when she canoes down the Amazon River in Brazil.

The 29-year-old said: "I'll be running from just above Hild Bede college for a few hundred metres with the torch.

"It's absolutely brilliant. And it's also really nice that all the torchbearers are girls as well. Girl power."

Kira Roberts has been selected for her exploits in fencing. The 22-year-old won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and is currently ranked among the top ten fencers in Britain.

Kira, who is studying for a Masters degree in English Literary Studies, is carrying the torch through the village of Sherburn, in County Durham. She said: "I want to be less of an individual, more of a Durham representative. To stand for what this university means to me, and my coaches, and helpers."

Video: Kira Roberts (left) in training at Durham University

The final torchbearer is Steph Elliot, from Nunthorpe in Middlesbrough. Steph is captain of the University's hockey team, and is a member of the England Under-21 squad. She'll be taking the torch through the town of Peterlee.

All three were nominated by the University's Vice-Chancellor, Chris Higgins. He said although it was a difficult decision choosing just three athletes, the trio deserved to be nominated for their contributions towards Durham's excellent reputation in sport.

Mr Higgins said: "It was a very difficult choice of course. We've got so many world class athletes and we have to share this around.

"We got many, many fine examples. Both current students and alumni of this university. Andrew Strauss for example is an alumnus, Nasser Hussain in cricket. Will Carling, Phil de Glanville. You name them, many of them have been at Durham. And we're proud indeed of our students, and very pleased indeed that three of our current students have been able to carry the Olympic Torch."