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Hampstead pensioner to carry Olympic torch years after competing in 1948 London Games

PUBLISHED: 14:55 05 April 2012

Lionel Price, who played basketball at the 1948 London Olympic Games, pictured with his Olympic passport and bus pass to travel around the venues. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Lionel Price, who played basketball at the 1948 London Olympic Games, pictured with his Olympic passport and bus pass to travel around the venues. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Taking part is the foundation stone of the Olympics - and 64 years since the Games last came to London the last remaining member of Great Britain's 1948 basketball team is sticking to that basic principle.

Lionel Price has had a heart bypass, hernia operations and struggles to navigate the hills of Hampstead.

But on July 22 the former basketball competitor will carry the Olympic Torch as it makes its way to the opening ceremony.

The once-in-a-lifetime event has come around twice for this old Olympian who competed in the post-war Games.

But it is only now that the 85-year-old truly appreciates what it means to be part of the greatest sporting festival on the planet.

He said: “As Baron Pierre de Coubertin once said, ‘It’s the taking part’, and that’s what it is and has always meant to me.

“We took part and no-one can take that away from us and I’ll do it again. That feels pretty special.”

Mr Price, from Lindfield Gardens in Hampstead, first competed as a fresh-faced 21-year-old with half of London decimated, rationing still in place, and teams from across the world housed in RAF barracks.

“It’s a much bigger deal this time around and it has made a much bigger impact on my life as I’m the only one they could find from that team,” said Mr Price. “My main claim to fame is not sporting prowess but longevity!”

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