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Abt a Torch-Bearer for London Olympics

July 24, 2012 | Todd Shields

GLENVIEW — Mike Abt of Abt Electronics in Glenview was an avid spectator at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and later the 2008 games in Beijing.

But this year he participated in an ancient Olympic tradition preceding the summer 2012 Olympic Games in London.

He recently joined 8,000 torchbearers in carrying the Olympic Flame through more than 1,000 cities and villages in the United Kingdom.

Standing for peace, unity and friendship, the tradition of the Olympic Flame is passed from runner to runner in a 70-day relay that began in Greece on May 18.

Abt, co-president at his company, said Samsung Electronics was an Olympic sponsor this year.

"Samsung was looking for people making a difference in their communities with local charities, so the company picked our store," said Abt, a Glencoe resident.

Abt said the CEO of Abt Electronics, his father Robert, did much to develop the company's charitable works.

The Chicago family-owned businesses opened its first store in 1936.

"Over the years, the Abt Family Foundation has helped autistic children, the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation and people with AIDS," he said.

On July 9, Abt ran more than 300 yards before handing off the flame to another torch carrier.

The route was through Luton, about 30 miles from London.

"We left the bus to run at 6:40 a.m., and even by then people were hanging out windows and cheering. The streets were lined with tons of people in this little town," he said.

Abt's 10-year-old son, Coby, joined him.

"The Olympics is really all about working and caring together in order to compete in a positive way," Abt said.

The Olympic Flame was carried to within an hour of 95 percent of people in the UK, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey during the 70-day torch relay.

Following a precise ritual, before every Olympic Games the sun's rays light the torch at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, among ruins of the ancient Greek games.

The flame is then delivered to a host country, where it is transferred from one torchbearer to another, until arriving at the cauldron of the opening ceremony and marking the start of the games.

The flame is extinguished on the final day of the games. This year's games are from July 27-Aug. 12.

On Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m. people can have their pictures taken with Olympic Torch on display at Abt Electronics, 1200 N. Milwaukee Ave., Glenview.

© Copyright 2012 Sun-Times Media, LLC