Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lighting the Olympic Torch

Every two years, I transform into a total Olympic sports junkie even though I don't have an athletic bone in my body. In fact, I was the kid that was picked last for team sports in gym class. Every. Single. Time.

However, as a kid and later as an adult I was a performer. In high school, I could twirl a flag and rifle like nobody's business. I sing. I dance. I act. I can build you a killer costume. If they gave metals for that, I'd compete for the gold.

For 14 days, I try to subscribe to the Olympic ideal that politics shouldn't be a part of sport even when the host country makes that difficult to set aside or when the Olympic events themselves are full of controversy and internal politics. (Like the Communist Party politburo member who forced the director to replace cute little Yang Peiyi in the Opening Ceremonies because he thought that her slightly crooked teeth meant that she wasn't pretty enough to publicly sing "Ode to the Motherland" as they raised the Chinese flag in the stadium. Another girl lip-synced the song to Yang's pre-recorded soundtrack. Yes, that burns my cookies too.)

Oops, I’m starting to go political. Let’s change gears, shall we?

My favorite part of the Opening Ceremonies is how each host city chooses to light the Olympic caldron. Each host city tries to top each other. I get giddy with anticipation every Olympic year.

Atlanta 1996





Having Muhammad Ali light the torch was touching and had a lot of heart. However, the flame on a pulley was not an imaginative way to light the Olympic torch.

Sydney 2000

Sidney upped the ante with their display of fire and water. Very fung shui. It was a dramatic lighting ceremony.

Beijing 2008


peking olympics

Beijing's flying torchbearer was amazing. They flew caldron lighter up on wires to the top the stadium. He “ran” along the inside of the stadium and lit the caldron. Unexpected and very impressive.

peking olympics
Photos courtesy of shibbolet .

Barcelona 1992


However, nothing and I mean nothing beats how Barcelona lit the Olympic caldron in 1992 with a flaming arrow.


Unexpected. Breathtaking. Superhuman - because the archer only had one actual practice with the cauldron due to secrecy. Amazing!

What is your favorite Olympic moment?


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