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List of people who have lit the Olympic Cauldron

An Asian man in red-and-white athletics shirt and shorts, and wearing sneakers, is suspended by wires in the air while holding a lit torch in his right hand. In the background, a large crowd in a stadium can be seen, as well as two blurred flags hoisted in flagpoles.
Li Ning, a former Chinese gymnast, lit the Olympic Cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The tradition of carrying the Olympic flame from Olympia, Greece, the birthplace of the Ancient Olympic Games, to the host city of the modern Olympic Games via a torch relay was first introduced in 1936, ahead of the Berlin Games. Since then, famous athletes (active or retired) with significant sporting achievements while representing the host country, promising young athletes, or other individuals with symbolic significance, have been selected as the last runners in the Olympic torch relay and consequently have the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony.

Contents

HistoryEdit

The first well-known athlete to light the cauldron was nine-time Olympic champion Paavo Nurmi at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki. Other famous final torch bearers include French football star Michel Platini (1992), heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (1996), Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman (2000), the Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky (2010) and the runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima (2016) .

On other occasions, the people who lit the cauldron were not famous but nevertheless symbolized the Olympic ideals. Japanese runner Yoshinori Sakai was born in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day the city was destroyed by an atomic bomb. He symbolized the rebirth of Japan after the Second World War when he lit the Olympic cauldron of the 1964 Summer Olympics. At the 1976 Games in Montreal, two teenagers—representing the French- and the English-speaking parts of the country—symbolized the unity of Canada. Norway's Crown Prince Haakon lit the cauldron of the 1994 Winter Olympics, in honor of his father and grandfather, both Olympians. For the 2012 Games in London, seven aspiring young athletes—each nominated by a former British Olympic champion—had the honor of lighting the cauldron.

People who have lit the Olympic CauldronEdit

 
Fritz Schilgen carrying the Olympic torch down the steps of the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, 1936.
 
Paavo Nurmi lighting the Cauldron in Helsinki Olympic Stadium, 1952.
 
Giancarlo Peris running with the torch on the track at the Olympic Stadium in Rome, 1960
 
Basketball player Sergei Belov lighting the Olympic fire at the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, 1980.
 
Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, Brazilian marathonist lighting the Cauldron in Maracanã Stadium, RIo de Janeiro, 2016.
Games Location Lighter Sport Note Ref
1936 Summer Berlin Fritz Schilgen Track and field Schilgen was not a competitor at the Olympics, but was chosen for his graceful running style. [1]
1948 Summer London John Mark Track and field Little-known former medical student from Cambridge University. [2]
1952 Winter Oslo Eigil Nansen Non-athlete Grandson of polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen. He is the first non-athlete to light the flame. [3]
1952 Summer Helsinki Paavo Nurmi Track and field Nurmi was a winner of nine Olympic gold medals in the 1920s; Kolehmainen won four Olympic gold medals. Nurmi lit a cauldron on field level before handing the torch to four soccer players who relayed the torch to the top of the tower. Kolehmainen then lit the final, higher-placed cauldron. [4]
Hannes Kolehmainen
1956 Winter Cortina d'Ampezzo Guido Caroli Speed skating Participant in the 1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympics. Skating with the torch, he tripped over a television cable but kept the flame burning. [5]
1956 Summer Melbourne Ron Clarke (Melbourne) Track and field Clarke would later win an Olympic bronze medal in 1964; Wikne participated in the 1964 Olympics. After Wikne lit the brazier on the infield, the flame was passed on to Karin Lindberg and Henry Ericksson, who separately ran up the two towers of the Stockholm Olympic Stadium. [6]
Hans Wikne (Stockholm) Equestrianism
1960 Winter Squaw Valley Ken Henry Speed skating Olympic champion in 500 m speed skating at the 1952 Games. [7]
1960 Summer Rome Giancarlo Peris Track and field Track athlete of Greek descent. The Italian National Olympic Committee decided that the last torchbearer of the Olympic Games would be the winner of a junior cross country running race. Peris won and was chosen to be the last torchbearer. [8]
1964 Winter Innsbruck Josef Rieder Alpine skiing Participant in the 1956 Olympics. [9]
1964 Summer Tokyo Yoshinori Sakai Track and field Sakai was born on the same day the atom bomb exploded over his native Hiroshima. He never participated in the Olympics. [10]
1968 Winter Grenoble Alain Calmat Figure skating Winner of the silver medal in the 1964 Olympics. [11]
1968 Summer Mexico City Norma Enriqueta Basilio de Sotelo Track and field Sprinter who participated in these Olympics; the first woman to light the main Olympic cauldron. [12]
1972 Winter Sapporo Hideki Takada Speed skating [13]
1972 Summer Munich Günther Zahn Track and field Middle distance runner. Winner at the German junior athletics championships. [14]
1976 Winter Innsbruck Christl Haas Alpine skiing Haas won the Olympic downhill title in 1964; Feistmantl won luge doubles in the same year. [15]
Josef Feistmantl Luge
1976 Summer Montreal Stéphane Préfontaine Track and field Two teenagers representing English and French Canada. Neither of them would participate in future Olympics. [16]
Sandra Henderson
1980 Winter Lake Placid Charles Morgan Kerr Non-athlete Doctor from Arizona who had been elected from all 52 bearers to run the final leg. [17]
1980 Summer Moscow Sergey Belov Basketball Member of the Soviet Basketball team who won four Olympic medals, including a gold in 1972. [18]
1984 Winter Sarajevo Sanda Dubravčić Figure skating Participant in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics. [19]
1984 Summer Los Angeles Rafer Johnson Track and field Winner of the decathlon at the 1960 Olympics. [20]
1988 Winter Calgary Robyn Perry Figure skating A 12-year-old schoolgirl and aspiring figure skater. [21]
1988 Summer Seoul Chung Sun-man Non-athlete Chung Sun-Man was a schoolteacher. Sohn was a young Korean dancer. Kim Won-tak was a young track athlete who took part in that year's marathon. [22]
Sohn Mi-chung
Kim Won-tak Track and field
1992 Winter Albertville Michel Platini Association football Platini took part with the French Football team in the 1976 Summer Olympics. Grange was a future alpine skier (and older brother of future multiple time alpine akiing Slalom World Champion Jean-Baptiste Grange) and was nine years old at the time, becoming the youngest final lighter in history. [23]
François-Cyrille Grange Alpine skiing
1992 Summer Barcelona Antonio Rebollo Archery Paralympian who competed in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Summer Paralympic Games, winning two silvers and a bronze. The only Paralympian ever to light the Olympic Cauldron, Rebollo shot a flaming arrow over an open natural gas cauldron to ignite it. [24]
1994 Winter Lillehammer Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway Non-athlete Heir apparent to the throne of Norway. Though he was not an Olympian, both his father and grandfather took part in the Olympics and he lit the cauldron on their behalf. His father declared the games open. [25]
1996 Summer Atlanta Muhammad Ali Boxing Winner of Olympic gold in 1960 and considered to be the greatest boxer of all time. [26]
1998 Winter Nagano Midori Ito Figure skating Winner of Olympic silver in 1992. [27]
2000 Summer Sydney Cathy Freeman Track and field Winner of Olympic silver in 1996 and Olympic gold in these Olympics, both in the 400 m. She is the only person ever to light a cauldron and win a gold medal in the same games. [28]
2002 Winter Salt Lake City The 1980 U.S. Olympic ice hockey team Ice hockey Famous for the "Miracle on Ice"; an upset of the Soviet Union team en route to the gold medal. [29]
2004 Summer Athens Nikolaos Kaklamanakis Sailing Winner of Olympic gold in 1996 and silver in these Olympics. [30]
2006 Winter Turin Stefania Belmondo Cross-country skiing Winner of ten Olympic medals, two of them gold. One of Italy's most decorated Olympians. [31]
2008 Summer Beijing Li Ning Artistic gymnastics Winner of six Olympic medals including three gold, in 1984. He was China's most successful athlete at their first Olympic appearance since 1952. [32]
2010 Winter Vancouver Steve Nash (indoor cauldron) Basketball Le May Doan was a winner of two gold medals in the 500 m in 1998 and 2002 and a bronze in the 1000 m in 1998. Nash is a two-time NBA MVP with the Phoenix Suns and a former member of the Canadian Olympic Basketball team. Greene won gold in the giant slalom and silver in the slalom in 1968. Gretzky was a member of the Canadian ice hockey team and won four Stanley Cup titles as captain of the Edmonton Oilers (1984, 1985, 1987, 1988). He was the Executive Director of the Canadian men's hockey team in 2002, who won gold at those games.

During the opening ceremony, Nash, Greene and Gretzky lit a cauldron inside the BC Place indoor stadium. Gretzky then lit a second, outdoor cauldron near the Vancouver Convention Centre. Only the outdoor cauldron remained lit throughout the Games.

Le May Doan was supposed to participate in the lighting of the indoor cauldron, but was left out when one of the four arms failed to raise due to mechanical problems. This was corrected at the beginning of the closing ceremony, when a joke was made about the mechanical error, and she was able to light the newly emerged fourth arm and relight the indoor cauldron to begin the closing ceremony.

[33][34][35]
Nancy Greene (indoor cauldron) Alpine skiing
Wayne Gretzky (indoor & outdoor cauldrons) Ice hockey
Catriona Le May Doan (closing ceremony) Speed skating
2012 Summer London Desiree Henry Track and field The cauldron was lit by seven aspiring young athletes, each nominated by a veteran British Olympian: Airlie was nominated by Shirley Robertson, Duckitt by Duncan Goodhew, Henry by Daley Thompson, Kirk by Dame Mary Peters, MacRitchie by Sir Steve Redgrave, Reynolds by Lynn Davies and Tracey by Dame Kelly Holmes. Austin Playfoot later relit the cauldron in its new spot in the Olympic Stadium. The seven youngsters are commonly referred to as the "Secret Seven" as their identity and role was a closely guarded secret until the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron.

Henry would later go on to win an Olympic bronze medal in the 4 × 100 m in 2016.

[36][37]
Katie Kirk
Aidan Reynolds
Adelle Tracey
Callum Airlie Sailing
Jordan Duckitt Volunteering: Young Ambassadors
Cameron MacRitchie Rowing
2014 Winter Sochi Irina Rodnina Figure skating Rodnina won three successive Olympic gold medals in Figure Skating pairs in 1972, 1976 and 1980. Tretiak was a former goaltender for the Soviet Union's national ice hockey team and contributed to the team winning three gold medals—in 1972, 1976 and 1984—as well as a silver in 1980. [38]
Vladislav Tretiak Ice hockey
2016 Summer Rio de Janeiro Vanderlei de Lima
(indoor cauldron)
Athletics Winner of the bronze medal in the marathon of the 2004 Summer Olympics. De Lima was the first Latin American awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal after he was deliberately interrupted during that event.

A second, outdoor cauldron was lit in front of Candelaria Church by 14-year-old Jorge Gomes, who is part of a sports project in Rio de Janeiro.

[39][40]

Youth OlympicsEdit

Games Location Lighter Sport Note Ref
2010 Summer Youth Singapore Darren Choy Sailing A sailor of Singapore who participated in the games.
2012 Winter Youth Innsbruck Egon Zimmermann Alpine skiing Both Zimmerman and Klammer won the gold in the downhill event in 1964 and 1976 respectively, both years when Austria previously hosted the Adult Winter games.
Franz Klammer
2014 Summer Youth Nanjing Chen Ruolin Diving Winner of back-to-back gold medals in diving in 2008 and 2012, in the 10 m and the 10 m synchronized. She would also win a gold medal in 2016.
2016 Winter Youth Lillehammer Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway Non-Athlete Elder child of Crown Prince Haakon, who previously lit the cauldron in the 1994 Adult Winter games. [41]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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  5. ^ "Cortina d'Ampezzo 1956 Winter Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  6. ^ "Melbourne / Stockholm 1956 Summer Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
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  14. ^ "Munich 1972 Summer Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  15. ^ "Innsbruck 1976 Winter Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  16. ^ "Montreal 1976 Olympic Games". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  17. ^ "Lake Placid 1980 Winter Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  18. ^ IOC 1980 Summer Olympics Archived 2010-08-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ "Sarajevo 1984 Winter Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  20. ^ "Los Angeles 1984 Summer Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 24 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  21. ^ "Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  22. ^ "Seoul 1988 Summer Games Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
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  24. ^ "Barcelona 1992 Summer Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  25. ^ "Lillehammer 1994". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  26. ^ "Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  27. ^ "Nagano 1998 Winter Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  28. ^ "Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 19 July 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  29. ^ "Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  30. ^ "Athens 2004 Summer Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 7 July 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  31. ^ "Turin 2006 Winter Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  32. ^ "Beijing 2008 Summer Games Olympics – results & video highlights". Olympic.org. Retrieved 9 September 2016. 
  33. ^ Friesen, Paul (13 February 2010). "Opening Ceremony timeline". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  34. ^ 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony (television). NBC Sports. 2010-02-12. 
  35. ^ Kines, Lindsay (February 28, 2010). "Closing ceremony pokes fun at the 2010 Games". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  36. ^ Holton, Kate; Maidment, Neil (28 July 2012). "Seven teenagers light Games' cauldron". Reuters. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  37. ^ "Cauldron moved into position in Olympic Stadium". London 2012. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2013. 
  38. ^ "Sochi Opening Ceremony: Rodnina, Tretyak light Olympic cauldron together". NBC Sports. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014. 
  39. ^ "Best man for the job: Vanderlei de Lima lights Olympic cauldron". NBC Sports. 6 August 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  40. ^ "Formerly homeless boy who lit Olympic cauldron now has 'beautiful life'". CBC. 12 August 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  41. ^ "Princess Ingrid Alexandra lit the Olympic fire". Norway Today. 12 February 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2016.