It's a crying flame

THREE Northern Rivers Olympians have been inadvertently caught up in the Olympic Torch Relay controversy.

Swimmers Adam Pine and Petria Thomas and walker Kerry Saxby-Junna were all elated when they were named among the 80 Australians to carry the Olympic Torch, which is scheduled to pass through Canberra on Thursday, April 24.

However, violent protests in Athens, London, Paris and San Francisco since the Flame was lit in Greece have raised doubts as to whether the Australian leg of the Torch Relay will go ahead.

Thomas and Saxby-Junna did not return calls from The Northern Star this week, while Pine is in Manchester with the Australian swimming team.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has admitted the Torch Relay is 'in crisis' and Federal Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said he would not be surprised if the Australian leg was cancelled.

The Flame is now in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, where it will be guarded by 1200 police and 1500 coastguard officers.

It's a far cry from when the Torch passed through the Northern Rivers with a small security detail in 2000.

Meanwhile, Pine continued his career best form by claiming a silver medal in the 100m butterfly at the world shortcourse titles in Manchester.

Pine finished second to Slovenian Peter Mankoc in the final, with Mankoc clocking a championship record 50.04s. Mankoc's time bettered Pine's record by 0.05s, which he had set the previous evening in the semi-finals.

Pine's efforts follow the 32-year-old qualifying for his third Olympic team.

During qualifying at the national championships in Sydney last month, the former Ballina Indoor member swam three personal best times in the 100m butterfly, his pet event.


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