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Youngsters travel 110km between Alencon and Basingstoke
MORE than 40 young people from England, Wales, France and Norway cycled, canoed and walked 110km from Alencon to Basingstoke.
The teenagers, aged bet-ween 14 and 18, ended their journey at the Civic Offices, in London Road, where they met Peter Mansell, an Olympic torchbearer, from Oakley. The adventure was part of the European Union’s Youth in Action project.
The youngsters also had the chance to watch the Olympics during the week-long trip, stopping in London to watch judo, badminton, basketball and canoeing.
Laurence Hall, 16, from Bramley, took part after hearing about the project through Bramley Youth Club.
He said: “It was a really good challenge. The best thing was finding out about different cultures. I have never met people from Norway before and they spoke perfect English. It was a really good experience and it’s changed my attitude towards respecting other people’s cultures. If I was to do it next year, I would learn French beforehand.”
Daniel Garnier, international partnerships, skills and tourism officer at Bas-ingstoke and Deane Borough Council, accompanied the group on the trip.
He said: “It was brilliant. It was hard work and hot but they just got on with it and were in great spirits. This was the first time that some of them have come to England, so to see the Olympics was amazing.”
Francis Menager, from Basingstoke’s twin town of Alencon, organised the trip, and said: “The Olympic Games was a good opportunity to organise something around sport.”
Mr Mansell, a coach with Basingstoke and Deane Canoe Club, who carried the Olympic torch in Bexhill-on-Sea on July 17, said he was pleased to share the torch with the young people.
The 50-year-old added: “It’s all part of the job and duty of the torchbearer. For most people you see it as a flash, so it’s nice to see it and hold it.”