List of people who have lit the Olympic Cauldron
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 were allowed to be the last runner in the Olympic torch relay and consequently have the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony.
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 runner Cathy Freeman (2000), and Canadian ice hockey player Wayne Gretzky (2010).
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.
|1936 Summer||Berlin||Fritz Schilgen||Track and field athletics||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 athletics||Little-known former medical student from Cambridge University.||2|
|1952 Winter||Oslo||Eigil Nansen||The grandson of polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen. He is the first non-athlete to light the flame.||3|
|1952 Summer||Helsinki||Paavo Nurmi and Hannes Kolehmainen||Track and field athletics||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|
|1956 Winter||Cortina d'Ampezzo||Guido Caroli||Speed Skating||A 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) and Hans Wikne (Stockholm)||Track and field athletics (Clarke)
|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|
|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 athletics||A track athlete of Greek descent. The Italian National Olympic Committee decided that 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||A participant in the 1956 Olympics.||9|
|1964 Summer||Tokyo||Yoshinori Sakai||Track and field athletics||Sakai was born on the same day the atom bomb exploded over his native Hiroshima.||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 athletics||A 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 athletics||A middle distance runner. Winner at the German junior athletics championships.||14|
|1976 Winter||Innsbruck||Christl Haas and Josef Feistmantl||Alpine Skiing (Haas)
|Haas won the Olympic downhill title in 1964; Feistmantl won luge doubles in the same year.||15|
|1976 Summer||Montreal||Stéphane Préfontaine and Sandra Henderson||Track and field athletics||Two teenagers representing English and French Canada.||16|
|1980 Winter||Lake Placid||Charles Morgan Kerr||A doctor from Arizona who had been elected from all 52 bearers to run the final leg. He is not an Athlete.||17|
|1980 Summer||Moscow||Sergey Belov||Basketball||A member of the Soviet Basketball team who won four Olympic medals, including a gold in 1972.||18|
|1984 Winter||Sarajevo||Sanda Dubravčić||Figure Skating||A participant in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics.||19|
|1984 Summer||Los Angeles||Rafer Johnson||Track and field athletics||Winner of the decathlon at the 1960 Olympics.||20|
|1988 Winter||Calgary||Robyn Perry||Figure Skating||A 12-year-old schoolgirl.||21|
|1988 Summer||Seoul||Chung Sun-Man, Sohn Mi-Chung, and Kim Won-Tak||Track and field athletics||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|
|1992 Winter||Albertville||Michel Platini and François-Cyrille Grange||Association Football (Platini)
Alpine Skiing (Grange)
|Platini took part with the French Football team in the 1976 Summer Olympics. Grange was nine years old at the time, becoming the youngest final lighter in history.||23|
|1992 Summer||Barcelona||Antonio Rebollo||Archery||A 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||The heir apparent to the throne of Norway. Though he was not an Olympian, both his father and grandfather did take part in the Olympics and 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 one of the greatest boxers 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 athletics||Winner of Olympic silver in 1996 and Olympic gold in these Olympics, both in the 400m. 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||Catriona Le May Doan (closing ceremony),
Nancy Greene and
|Speed Skating (Le May Doan)
Alpine Skiing (Greene)
Ice Hockey (Gretzky)
|Le May Doan was a winner of two gold medals in the 500m in 1998 and 2002 and a bronze in the 1000m 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 a 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.
|2012 Summer||London||Callum Airlie,
and Adelle Tracey,
|Track and field athletics (Henry, Kirk, Reynolds, Tracey)
|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.||3637|
|2014 Winter||Sochi||Irina Rodnina and Vladislav Tretiak||Figure Skating (Rodnina)
Ice Hockey (Tretiak)
|Rodnina won 3 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 3 gold medals in 1972, 1976, and 1984, as well as a silver in 1980.||38|
- IOC 1936 Summer Olympics
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- IOC 1952 Summer Olympics
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- IOC 2008 Summer Olympics
- Friesen, Paul (13 February 2010). "Opening Ceremony timeline". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 13 February 2010.
- 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony (television). NBC Sports. 2010-02-12.
- Kines, Lindsay (February 28, 2010). "Closing ceremony pokes fun at the 2010 Games". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 1 March 2010.
- Holton, Kate; Maidment, Neil (28 July 2012). "Seven teenagers light Games' cauldron". Reuters. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- "Cauldron moved into position in Olympic Stadium". London 2012. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "Sochi Opening Ceremony: Rodnina, Tretyak light Olympic cauldron together". NBC Sports. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 7 February 2014.