Many youngsters grow up dreaming of becoming an Olympian, draped in their country’s colours after winning gold on the biggest of global stages.
They sacrifice much of themselves in a selfish determination to succeed, though while they prove the most public and recognisable of Olympic heroes, there are thousands of other stories from participants from the host nations which slip below the radar.
Eight thousand inspirational people from all walks of life will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to carry the Olympic flame on its UK-wide relay before the opening ceremony gets underway at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford on July 27.
A regular runner for almost a quarter of a century, Anita Neilson, 48, from Bearsden in East Dumbartonshire was nominated by her friend Julie Thomson after helping a group of women train for the Paris marathon, however her journey to carrying the Olympic flame started when she was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago.
“In 2005 I had breast cancer, and had to go through chemotherapy and radiotherapy. There was very little advice or research on how much exercise I should do or be allowed to continue with,” she says.
“I chose to continue to run throughout my treatment with only a break near the end of my chemotherapy when my immune system wasn't recovering fast enough.
“Once the chemo finished I went right back to running again. I maintain that the running helped me feel better and certainly gave me a positive outlook to my recovery.”
A nursing lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland, Neet - as she is known to her friends - has played a pivotal role in not only helping friends prepare for a marathon, but raised money for charities with runs in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Her dedication to teaching, taking in homeless cats and dogs, and inspiration to help others shone through in Julie’s nomination for Neet to become a torchbearer.
“With lymph nodes removed, instead of sitting back, she built her strength back by learning pole dancing. This year Neet raised £1,350 running the Edinburgh Marathon for Breast Cancer Care.
“One of her friends died of breast cancer recently and she took her friend’s 12 year old daughter on the Glasgow Race for Life 5k.
“Neet has positively impacted my life and is a truly amazing person. I can honestly say I would not have achieved my recent marathon without Neet's encouragement and motivation.
“[She] slowed down her pace and lost sight of her training goals to encourage myself and the other two girls, bringing fun and friendship to our big task – she called us the maragirls – we all completed our marathon’s [sic] thanks to Neet’s great coaching. Neet is a worthy torchbearer!”
Supported by her family and no doubt hundreds of local well-wishers, the mother of one will run her leg of the relay early this Saturday morning as the flame winds its way around the city centre and west end of Glasgow before heading up to Inverness.
Far from being nervous as might be expected, Neet is excited for her chance to be a part of the Olympic Games. “For me it is an honour to be part of the Olympic Flame relay mainly because it helps bring the Olympics and sport into the lives of people that might not have looked at it or got involved," she says.
“It brings the reality of it to your street, and not just something that you watch on telly; everyone can be a part of it.
“Exercise and staying fit is extremely important and can improve the quality of life for everyone, and it doesn't have to be extreme. Just a brisk walk is enough to get you fitter. I have been a runner, and not a very good one, since 1988.
“Recently this year, research from Dundee University proved that exercising during treatment and beyond is beneficial both physically and mentally. So if I do anything as a torchbearer, I want to raise the awareness of the importance of exercise for all at a level suited to the individual's own level of ability."
With distances from 5k to marathon behind her, Neet admits carrying the Olympic flame over a much shorter distance won’t be too much of a problem.
“I run regularly so you can say I am already in training. We run 300 metres each and I think it will be the slowest I will ever run that distance so I’ll enjoy every minute of it. Being part of it has made it that bit more special, and I will take great interest in the events [when the Olympics begin].”