University of South Carolina professor carries Olympic torch

University of South Carolina professor Dr. Steven Blair carried the Olympic torch in England Thursday, July 11.

COLUMBIA (WACH) - The Olympic Games do not begin for two weeks, but a University of South Carolina professor played his part in this year's event Wednesday.

Dr. Steven Blair was in England this week to carry the Olympic torch on the 54th day of the Olympic Torch Relay. He was selected by Coca-Cola to be an Olympic Torchbearer.

A video posted to YouTube Wednesday shows Blair, dressed in the official torchbearer track suit, receiving the flame from another torchbearer. He runs with the torch through a street surrounded by people waving and taking photographs. Blair waved and smiled at the crowd as he carried the flame. In the middle of one of the largest groups of cheering people along the route, he passed on the torch.

The flame was carried through Reading, Theale, Thatcham, Newbury, Basingstoke, Kings Worthy, Winchester, Andover, Ludgershall, Tidworth, Amesbury, The Winterbournes and Salisbury Wednesday by various torchbearers.

Blair was inteviewed on Good Day Columbia before he and his wife headed overseas.

"I do a lot of work with (Coca-Cola), they fund a lot of my research," said Blair, who works with the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

Blair says Coca-Cola has been a sponsor has been an Olympic sponsor for many years. They focus on active, healthy living, so the people they nominate to run come from that area of expertise.

"I focus on physical activity and health, and I've been doing this for over 40 years. We find that inactivity, I mean, I think frankly, is the biggest public health problem of the 21st century," said Blair. "We have millions of people who are sedentary and unfit, and it's a really strong risk factor."

Blair was excited to be selected for the opportunity to carry the torch.

"Carrying the torch and being out there moving is kind of the thing I've been preaching all of these years," said Blair.