Saturday, July 7, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Torch Relay online
Debra Toney, Las Vegas, is scheduled to run her leg of the Olympic torch relay on Monday in Kirtlington, England. Parts of the relay are being streamed live on the London Olympic Games website. The torch is scheduled to hit Kirtlington at 3:11 p.m. local time Monday in England (7:11 a.m. Las Vegas time).
An Olympic-class sprinter could cover 300 meters — about the length of three football fields — in just over 30 seconds. Luckily for Debra Toney, her participation in the London 2012 Olympic Games won’t require her to run nearly that fast.
On what’s forecast to be a cool and rainy Monday afternoon, the Las Vegas nurse will be handed the Olympic torch near Kirtlington, Oxfordshire, about 65 miles northwest of London. For 300 meters, Toney will carry the flame before handing it off to another runner and eventually returning to Las Vegas, where she is an active community volunteer and director of nursing for the Nevada Health Centers.
In all, 8,000 runners will carry the Olympic torch through 1,019 communities in the United Kingdom, with the 70-day relay ending July 27 at the opening ceremony of the Summer Games.
“I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting,” Toney, 56, said before she left for England. “It’s an awesome, unbelievable feeling. ... I’m a regular person. This could have been anybody.”
But to the friends and colleagues who recommended Toney to be a torchbearer, the honor is recognition for her efforts serving the community.
A nurse for more than 30 years, the Oklahoma-born Toney recently served as the president of the National Black Nurses Association and is a member of the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women’s Health Advisory Committee.
Toney and 21 other runners were selected to be torchbearers through a program sponsored by Coca-Cola that recognizes those who showed “personal and professional dedication to promoting healthy lifestyles and for empowering civic engagement in communities,” according to the company.
Toney said she’s devoted her life to helping improve the lives of others, and she hopes her run will inspire others to get active and get involved.
“For me, it’s always about something bigger than ourselves,” she said. “It’s about who you can help, who you can pick up along the way.”
She said she’s spent months training for the run by doing spin classes, riding an elliptical machine and trying to walk more.
“I park as far away from the door (at work) as I can and try to take the stairs instead of the elevator,” she said.
Even though her moment of glory will be over Monday, she said she and her husband planned to spend the rest of the week sightseeing in London, which they’ve never visited.
“I want to see the castles, the palaces, the Royal College of Nursing and the (Florence) Nightingale Museum,” she said, “and of course whatever shopping is available.”
Toney plans to follow the games closely.
“I’m excited to watch the games. I love the opening ceremonies, everything about it,” she said. “Just to watch the athletes do things you can’t even imagine. I always think about how much dedication and commitment to living a healthy lifestyle that takes.”