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Barnesville’s Olympic connections

By Kay S. Pedrotti Watching the London Olympics brings back memories for some local folks — Robbie Patterson was a torch-bearer in 2002 and 10 years earlier a Barnesville group helped bring the Atlanta Summer Olympic flag to the city in preparation for the 1996 games. Patterson said carrying the torch as part of a cross-country run toward Salt Lake City was ‘an unbelievable experience, one I’ll never, ever forget.’ He was one of three chosen from Atlantic Southeast Airlines, a division of Delta Airlines, a Salt Lake City games’ sponsor. The ASA runners were bused to Mobile, Ala., where they each ran a leg through the Mobile area. Shuttle buses dropped each runner at his or her appointed route then picked them up, Patterson said. ’Everything was so well organized,’ said Patterson. ‘We were given our assigned routes in advance so our families would know where to set up to watch us.’ The Patterson family has lived in Barnesville since 2007. Robbie’s wife Becky works with the Lamar County Health Department and is part of the low-birth-weight strategy team of the Lamar County Family Connection Collaborative. Robbie is now with Delta, where he has held a number of positions from baggage-handler to ramp trainer. Margaret Fluellyn, a lifelong Barnesville resident and Lamar primary school’s registrar and administrative assistant, was one of eight members of the Barnesville Running Club who were flagcarriers as the Atlanta Olympic flag was shown all across Georgia toward Atlanta in 1992. Atlanta was the site of the summer games scheduled in 1996. Organizer of the club Richard Boggs served as team leader for Fluellyn, Doug Tuttle, Bill Cherry, George Butler, Jacob Lonberg, George Garrison and Larry Whitworth. Boggs also supervised a team that ran the flag from Byron to Forsyth, where the local team took up the run, ending in Barnesville. There was ‘quite a celebration’ on Sept. 7, 1992, when the flag arrived at Summers Field, said Fluellyn. Boggs said the cross-Georgia run also included a huge ceremony in Macon for about a thousand runners who had carried the Atlanta flag. Local artist Carol Wubbena donated a sculpture for the Macon event, Boggs said. Fluellyn commented, ‘I still don’t believe that I was chosen.’ She’s still running and has been in every Buggy Days race since its start in 1974.

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