How we investigated Olympic sponsor torchbearers

Cross-posted from The Guardian Datablog:

Our investigation into Olympic torchbearer stories has unearthed some surprising choices by sponsor organisations. But how did we get to that point? The answer is a combination of curiosity, cynicism and knowing when to ask for help.

Here’s how it went: Continue reading

Who are the torchbearers?

A 101-year-old former marathon runner and multiple world record holder will be the oldest man to carry the Olympic torch, according to an analysis of data on over 6,000 torchbearers.

Fauja Singh announced his retirement from marathon running shortly before competing in the London Marathon last month, his last race.

A Facebook page campaigning for his nomination has gathered almost 3,000 ‘Likes’, which helped contribute to the announcement of his participation in the torch relay last weekend. Previously the oldest participant was reported to be Diana Gold, who will be 100 when she carries the torch through Barnet.

11-year-old Dominic Macgowan from Birmingham can claim to be the most youthful torchbearer named on the London 2012 website – although almost 2,000 of the 8,000 torchbearers are yet to be announced.

The analysis also reveals that the median age of torchbearers is 35, but teenagers dominate the field, with the most common age of torchbearers being 17, and almost a quarter of torchbearers aged 19 and younger.

And London boasts by far the most torchbearers: its 355 torchbearers account for five times as many as the second most popular home town: Nottingham, with 66.

Nottingham does particularly well for its population of around 285,000, less than a twenty-fifth of Greater London’s 7.2 million, although London’s 355 torchbearers do not include those who are more specific about their hometown, naming London suburbs such as Ealing and Harrow.

Cities feature heavily in the top ten, including Glasgow and Aberdeen, Belfast, Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol, Leeds and Bournemouth. Wales is the only part of the UK unrepresented, with Cardiff’s 31 torchbearers putting it at 14th.

We’ll be publishing further analysis of the torchbearers later this week.

Thanks to Zarino Zappia and Scraperwiki for helping with the collation of data.