Lionel Price got to carry to carry the Olympic torch on its journey to London on Sunday. Now he’s ready to hand on his torch as a member of one of British basketball’s most elite clubs.

The 85-year-old is one of only a handful of living relics from the Games of 1948 in London, the only previous occasion that Great Britain have competed.

Now for the second time. And that group of Olympians will get enlarged considerably this weekend the GB teams of 2012 begin their own quest in Stratford.

It is a different time and a different world to the one Price encountered in the so-called Austerity Games that followed the Second World War. Rationing was still in place. Budget was at a premium. It was, in so many ways, a make-do enterprise.

These Olympics were not the present day multi-billion pound Goliath.

“It was no big deal, it was nothing special,” recalls Price. “We were playing in the Olympic Games. They hadn’t had a Games since 1936, in Germany, and that had very unfortunate connotations.

“So generally speaking, it was very low-key. It needed the media to excite the interests of everybody and get attention. But people came.”

The GB squad of ’48 (Lionel Price)

Basketball was played at Haringey Arena, next to the dog track that would become an athletics venue. The hoops venue is long since demolished, a supermarket now sitting in its place. Inside, GB’s collection of accountants and tradesmen did battle with foes such as Canada and Brazil.

They claimed one victory over Ireland. Playing for 19th place, they lost out to Egypt. The experience was over.

Price has his momentos still stashed away. Not for the Class of 1948 the kind of uniform grab that all of Team GB have enjoyed at their base camp in Loughborough in recent weeks.

“Our socks, our shoes, underwear, towels all had to be paid for and supplied ourselves,” he declared.

“I’ve got a current GB basketball shirt with Price 48 on the back which they presented to me. To see the difference from that period, it’s staggering.”

The build-up to London has brought him back into the spotlight. There have been appearances on TV, not just from stations in the UK but requests from overseas as well.

Newspapers and magazines have beaten a path to his door. Schools have asked him to give talks. On one trip to a corporate event, he was asked to show identification.

How eyes must have bulged when he presented his accreditation card from 64 years ago.

He never envisaged that cameo appearance among the legends of sport would, many decades later. bring him a small slice of fame.

“It means more now than it did 20 or 30 years ago,” Price admits.

“As the publicity for Olympic Games becomes greater and greater every year, from Sydney onwards, I now say I’m an Olympian. I don’t say how well or badly we did. I just say I’m an Olympian.

“And I’ll be an Olympian until the day I die.”

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