For 19-year-old Olympic torchbearer Kylan Nieh, the 2012 London Games have already created a colorful memory. Unfortunately for Nieh, the brilliance of the memory will not be captured in family photos.
Last Wednesday, Nieh was "one of 22 inspiring Americans" who carried the torch as part of Coca-Cola's positive-living program. The Fremont, Calif., native had dreams of becoming an Olympic gymnast before an injury ended his career on the mats early.
Thanks to Coca-Cola, Nieh, a student at Cal, still managed to be part of the Olympics, making a three-minute torch run through Andover, England. Thousands of people cheered Nieh as he arrived at the torch relay location. "It was very overwhelming," Nieh wrote in an email to Bay Area News Group. "I was even handed babies to take pictures with!"
In the middle of his run, Nieh handed the torch to a confused official and showed off some of his pre-injury gymnastics skills. He did backflips down the road, much to the joy of the crowd. After the backflips, Nieh blew kisses to the crowd and kicked his heels while racing through the streets.
“It was the best day of the past 19 years of my life," Nieh wrote about the storybook day.
But just days after this shining moment, his family's summer vacation took a tough turn at a Rome train station where Nieh's father had a bag stolen.
"My father was approached by a couple of men at a train station in Rome," he wrote in an email to Bay Area News Group. "The men ended up stealing my father's bag and after trying to chase them, we lost everything."
The bag contained an iPad, a passport and all of the family's photos and video from Nieh's torch relay, which he said he hadn't had a chance to view yet.
In a fantasy turned nightmare, Nieh is now doing everything he can to gather photos and video taken during his torch run by media outlets in England.
"It's my last straw of hope," he wrote.