A swim coach and child psychologist who gave up the chance to represent her country in the Olympics to further her studies will carry the Olympic torch.

Vicky Panagiotidou, who was born in Greece and was three-time 200m breaststroke national champion in her teens, will carry the torch on May 21.

However, despite being delighted to carry the Olympic torch, she is disappointed the hundreds of children she coaches will miss it after being placed on the Somerset route.

The 34-year-old, who is splits her time between working as a psychologist for special needs children and coaching young swimmers, will carry the torch through Minehead, Somerset.

She said: "Obviously I am so proud to be chosen but it is disappointing I will be almost 200 miles away from Croydon.

"As a Greek national it is extra special as the flame has come from my home country so it is a great honour."

Miss Panagiotidou travelled to the UK in 1995 to to read Psychology at The University of Middlesex, and despite being national champion, missed her place at Atlanta 1996 after she was not informed of the trials date.

Aged just 18, she made the tough decision to scale back her training to focus on her degree.

She said: "It was a degree in a second language for me, which was hard enough, I had to make a choice.

"I missed my chance to be part of the Olympics but now I have a second chance."

Moving to Waddon 10 years ago, she began coaching and now works with more than 200 children across the borough as part of her club AMES at Croydon High School, St Joseph’s College and Whigift School.

She also continues to swim competitively and will compete in the World Master’s Competition in June for Croydon Amphibians' Masters team.


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