PLAYING THE PART

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Associated Press

Posted on August 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 8 at 10:31 AM

Sir Patrick Stewart found himself with a case of stage fright.

The British actor was asked if he wanted to wear swimmer Ryan Lochte's gold medal around his neck. Stewart politely turned down the offer before being persuaded by Lochte.

With that, Stewart decided to "boldly go where no one has gone before."

Stewart, known for his roles as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and as Professor Charles Xavier in "X-Men," said donning the medal was definitely a highlight of his career.

"It was lovely just to hold it. But Ryan said, 'No, no, no. Go ahead, put it on,'" said Stewart, who showed up at the track Wednesday. "Sometimes, this business brings you little perks. Sometimes, it brings you GIANT perks.

"I sent a tweet to Ryan afterward, saying, 'Great working with you and to touch gold.' I hope he realizes that I meant not just the medal but him, too."

Had Stewart traveled a different path, he might have an Olympic medal of his own. When he was 15, Stewart was a standout hurdler. But he threw a county race because he was appearing in the play "Harvey" that night and didn't want to be late. That was the end of athletics and the start of acting.

— Pat Graham — Twitter http://www.twitter.com/pgraham34

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EDITOR'S NOTE — "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.

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