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Chicago-Area Man Carries Olympic Torch

July 20, 2012 | Taylor Ervin

The Olympics might be a week away and taking place on the other side of the Atlantic, but the fanfare got a taste of the Chicago area last week.

That's when Glencoe resident Michael Abt carried the Olympic torch 300 meters closer to its final destination in London's Olympic Stadium, where it will stay for the duration of the games from July 27 through Aug. 12.

The 49-year-old son of Abt Electronics CEO Robert Abt is one of 8,000 torch bearers carrying the Olympic flame as it travels from the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece (where it is lit from the sun's rays) to the Opening Ceremony in London.

He ran with the torch for 300 meters through the city of Luton, a town of about 200,000 people situated 30 miles north of London.

"It was powerful to be on planet Earth with 7 billion people and to be the one human carrying the flame," Abt said. "I just felt more like a world citizen. I didn't feel so much American as just the guy carrying the torch."

The Olympic committee first contacted Abt's father Robert about a year ago. Robert had been nominated by many of his Glenview store's vendors as a potential torch-bearer because of the company's charitable efforts and environmentally conscious initiatives.

However, due to Robert's schedule he was not able travel at that time. Robert nominated his son Michael to run in his stead.

"It brought back a lot of memories because I used to run cross country in high school," Michael Abt said, "but the best part was that my 10-year-old son got to come with me."

Abt's father may not have gotten the chance to run with the torch, but it will soon shine on display at Abt Electronics as a symbol of the company's altruism. The Olympic committee produces 8,000 individual torches so that each torch-bearer may carry home a piece of the Olympic experience, and Michael brought home his torch to share with his father.

The company is currently building a display case that will house the torch.

Copyright © 2012 Tribune Company