As a decathlete, Joe Hutchinson is accustomed to sprinting, shot putting, throwing the discus and pole vaulting.
But this summer, one of the most meaningful athletic experiences of his life will be an easy, 300-meter jog.
Hutchinson, a freshman decathlete on UNC’s track and field team and an international student from Melksham, England, will fly home to run the Olympic torch before the games begin in London.
Hutchinson, who will carry the torch on May 23 near his hometown, said he is looking forward to representing his country.
“A lot of sporting heroes that I loved growing up carried the torch, and now I have the opportunity to carry it,” he said.
Cameron Overstreet, a pole vaulter on the track and field team, said Hutchinson is a hard worker.
“He is top-ranked in Britain and did a lot of national competitions over there,” Overstreet said.
Hutchinson said the torch will be carried by 300 different runners a day for 60 days before the games, and he has the opportunity to purchase the torch he carries as a memento from the occasion.
“This is a great honor for Joe and his family,” said Dennis Craddock, head track and field coach, in an email.
The director of sports from Hutchinson’s high school entered him into the competition to carry the torch. His name then went to a panel of judges before he was chosen out of the top 1,000.
Although the end of May is a busy time for college track athletes and the trip will cost him about $1,800, Hutchinson said he is excited for the honor and opportunity to carry the torch in his home country.
Teammate Scott Houston said he is not worried about Hutchinson missing practices in May.
“I’m jealous. If I had the opportunity, I’d take it,” Houston said.
Hutchinson came to UNC to experience the world and for the competition in the United States, he said, also citing England’s bad weather as a reason for going to college so far from home.
“When you do track and field, you do the same things day in and day out,” Hutchinson said. “If I were going to do it in England, I’d be doing the same things I’ve been doing since I was 15.”
Hutchinson’s major is still undecided, but he said he plans to pursue a high level of education and is considering an exercise and sport science major.
Craddock said he thinks Hutchinson’s summer experience won’t be his only at the Olympics.
“I think with maturity and strength Joe will be an Olympian for England in the 2016 Olympic Games,” he said in an email.
“I am not saying that meaning to be pressure for Joe but rather that I have that much confidence in his talents and abilities.”
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