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Bradford student to star in Olympics opening ceremony
8:00am Thursday 26th July 2012 in Sport
A Bradford student is to perform in the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics.
Amil Shafi, who was chosen from auditions attended by 10,000 people, is currently rehearsing with film director Danny Boyle for what looks set to be a spectacular ceremony, taking place tomorrow.
Amil has an acting role in an Industrial Revolution-themed section of the show, which will be watched by billions around the world.
Called Isles of Wonder, the ceremony will feature a parade of all competing nations and the Olympic flame igniting the cauldron to signal the start of the Games. It is directed by Danny Boyle, whose films include multi Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting.
Amil said: “Working with Danny Boyle is amazing. He’s a bright, sparky, cheerful character. He’s been at every rehearsal giving us briefings. Getting tips from him has been fantastic. I was starstruck when I first saw him, as Slumdog Millionaire is one of my all time favourite movies.”
He added: “I have enjoyed every second of rehearsals and made many lasting friendships.
“The Olympic Park is amazing. I’ve had chance to see a lot of venues firsthand before it officially opens. The nearer the day comes the more excited I get at the thought of being in the world’s biggest showpiece event in front of billions of people. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’ll probably have a tear or two in my eye.”
Amil has been travelling from Bradford to London for rehearsals lasting up to ten hours a day for 12 weeks. His performance marks a new-found confidence following a lifelong stammer that left him suicidal. Bullied as a child because of his speech problems, Amil got into fights before taking up boxing.
“Boxing classes helped me relieve some of the stress, disappointment, frustration and anger I had because of my stammer,” he said. “Boxing gave me something worthwhile to do in a disciplined environment and taught me self- respect.
“My dream was to compete in the London 2012 Olympics as a boxer, but sadly that wasn’t to be, so to be a part of the Games in some way, especially as a performer in the opening ceremony, is fantastic. It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life and I look forward to telling my grandchildren.”
Earlier this year the Telegraph & Argus reported that Amil had taken part in a televised course conquering stammers, led by Bradford’s Gareth Gates. Amil was one of six young people in Gareth Gates’s Stammer House, which followed their progress on the McGuire Programme. “The moment I found out I’d got in the Olympic opening ceremony was the best feeling since recovering from a stammer,” said Amil, who is studying to become a physiotherapist.