SPRINT legend Allan Wells has urged city residents to pour into the streets to welcome the Olympic torch relay and grasp the chance of a lifetime to sample a flavour of London 2012.
Scotland’s greatest 100-metre runner, who clinched gold at the Moscow Games in 1980, expects thousands to line the streets when the torch enters Edinburgh at around 4pm today as it makes its journey to London.
However, he insisted Edinburgh will have to go some way to emulate the fervour generated in the Scottish cities the Olympic flame has already passed through.
Speaking to the News, he said: “I was in Glasgow and Aberdeen when the torch arrived and I’ve got to say they encompassed the spirit of the Games big time. The main street in Aberdeen was three to five people deep on both sides and it was absolutely fantastic.
“I can’t see Edinburgh being any different to that and I’m sure it will be as good here as elsewhere.
“We may have something to live up to but I think it’s difficult not to get into the spirit of things and get out there and see this iconic symbol coming through the streets.”
The Liberton-born Olympian said watching the torch travel through his native city would be an emotion occasion for him.
“It will certainly be a unique thing to happen in this country and we won’t see it again in our lifetimes,” he said.
“I will never see the torch in this country again and that’s the sort of attitude I think people in Edinburgh will take – they will warm to it and get involved in the spirit of the Games. I think it’s going to be quite special.”
Following the torch procession, around 8500 spectators will pack into stands at Edinburgh Castle for a concert finale headlined by pop songstress Emeli Sandé.
It is thought the midweek event will bring a financial boost totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds to the city economy.
Graham Birse, director of policy at the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: “I’d dare say there will be a few people coming into the town that would not otherwise come on a Wednesday night and so I think there will be a boost in terms of day visitors and that can translate into a bit of retail and business in the shops, bars and restaurants.
“Eight thousand people is a sizeable crowd and they will all need to be fed and watered.
“It’s better to be out and about at this than watching football where Scotland failed to qualify.”