De Bruin will not carry Olympic torch


IRELAND’S MOST successful Olympian Michelle Smith de Bruin will not carry the Olympic torch when it arrives in Dublin next month.

Ms Smith de Bruin, who won three gold medals and a bronze at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, was not included in the final list of seven torchbearers who will carry the flame through the streets of Dublin on June 6th. Six previous Irish Olympic medal winners are included in the 41 torchbearers chosen for the event.

A spokesman for the Olympic Council of Ireland said Ms Smith de Bruin remained in “good standing” with the Olympic movement and her medals remained valid, although she was banned from swimming two years after Atlanta because of a drug sample that had been tampered with.

When asked why she was not carrying the torch if she was in good standing, the spokesman said: “It takes two to tango”.

When asked if that meant she had been asked and declined, he said: “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask her. The Olympic movement is in good standing with Michelle Smith”.

Attempts to contact the former swimmer proved unsuccessful yesterday. Two weeks ago her father Brian Smith told RTÉ’s Liveline programme it was a “complete surprise” to him that she was not included, as she remained Ireland’s greatest Olympian.

Mr Smith said his daughter had been tested numerous times during the Atlanta games and had tested negative at all stages.

He maintained she was innocent of the tampering charge which caused her to be banned from swimming for four years in 1998, effectively ending her career.

The seven remaining torchbearers are Bridget Taylor, the mother of boxer Katie Taylor (current competitors are excluded), jockey Ruby Walsh, former Irish rugby international Denis Hickie, hockey player Gillian Garrett, Áine Holden (12) who won the HSE Community Games competition to carry the torch, Special Olympics Ireland volunteer Pamela Lacken and Garrett Myhal, who is running in memory of his father Paul, a former charity runner.

More details of the torch relay will be revealed on Monday. The torchbearers will carry the flame, which arrives in Howth at 9.30am from a Border handover, through the streets of Dublin. The ceremony finishes with the lighting of a commemorative Olympic cauldron at the bandstand in St Stephen’s Green at 11.50am.

The other torchbearers include Irish gold medallists Ronnie Delany and Michael Carruth, Jedward, Kilkenny hurler Henry Shefflin, retired rugby player Shane Horgan and Dublin footballer Bernard Brogan.

The flame began its journey around Britain last week in Cornwall and thousands have turned out to see it en route.