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Friday 11 April 2008: One of Australia's most respected athletes, Michael Milton, is calling on protesters to show restraint and respect when the Olympic torch visits Canberra later this month.

Milton, one of 80 people who will carry the torch through Canberra on 24 April, says he sympathises with the Tibetans' cause but feels they should be more respectful of the Olympic movement and especially torch bearers.

'Carrying the torch is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some people. Many have been chosen by their community for the wonderful work they do and have been looking forward to being a central part of the celebrations,' said Milton.

He talked aboutSusan Zhuang, nominated by the Canberra community to carry the torch in recognition of her fundraising efforts for schools and local charities. Now a law student, she is committed to the promotion of social justice and equal rights for all people.

'Susan deserves to carry that torch with pride. She shouldn't feel intimidated by protestors or afraid for her own safety, regardless of how just their cause is,' explained Milton.

The skier-turned-cyclist is yet to qualify for a place on the Australian cycling team for the Beijing Paralympics in September but, if selected, says he has no intention of boycotting the Games.

'I respect the right of any athlete to make their own choice to boycott the Games but I've trained hard for my chance to compete and I can't wait. I'm not sure that boycotts have any effect at all.

'I also firmly believe in the Olympic and Paralympic movements as positive global entities - celebrations of humanity that genuinely have the potential to affect change.

'The Paralympic Games in particular are more than a sporting event. Seeing people with disabilities compete at the highest levels makes people question their attitudes and that, in turn, affects policy,' explained Milton.

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