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'Secret weapon' youth slam Marathon U-turn

PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 October 2010 | UPDATED: 16:24 04 October 2010

THE 'secret weapon' youngsters who helped secure the 2012 London Olympics have questioned the validity of plans to re-route the marathon out of east London.

Katie Murphy, 23, and Anh Thi, also 23, were credited with helping to seal London’s 2012 bid when they joined a group of young ambassadors on stage for the city presentations in Singapore in 2005.

The talented volleyball players from Bow described it as one of the greatest moments of their lives and like many East End youngsters had been eagerly anticipating watching Olympic events in their borough.

That dream has now been shattered after it was revealed organisers are considering re-routing the televised race from ‘dull’ east London to the ‘iconic’ west.

Katie and Ann had been 18-year-old members of the Lynx Volleyball Club at the Whitechapel Centre when they were nominated to represent Tower Hamlets at the prestigious selection ceremony.

The group of sports-mad kids were dubbed London’s ‘secret weapon,’ vividly highlighting the importance of the Games to youth living in the host boroughs.

This week Katie, who now lives in Poplar and works for an engineering company, said the marathon U-turn was “a huge blow” to those ideals.

She described the moment she and around 30 other youngsters won over judges in Singapore: “Each bidding country has 45 places and they usually take MPs or people who are going to be influential.

“Then we walked on stage. London was saying these are the real people who are going to benefit. All the parks, the facilities, it’s the young people who are going to benefit.”

She added: “Obviously they want Big Ben in the background, but isn’t there another route that could start at an iconic place and finish at the stadium? That’s the traditional place.

“It’s quite disappointing. You’ve won the bid based on these ideas and now you’re changing it. It’s not one of the reasons we won the Olympics. All the people in east London have worked so hard to get the Games here. But what’s going to be left?”

Anh, who still lives in Bow and works as a beautician in Hornchurch, added: “The Olympics was based on east London winning the bid. But basically they’re just saying east London isn’t worth it. They’re just using us for our space.

“They want to change east London and make it a better place. But for them to all of a sudden put it in west London just isn’t giving us a chance.”

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