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OLYMPIC REVIEW63OLYMPIC FLAMEforever in Olympic history in Sydney in 2000, wherenot only did she appear to walk on water beforelighting the flame in an enormous cauldron, but wenton to become the only last relay runner to also win agold medal at the same Games.The Berlin (1936), London (1948) and Moscow(1980) torch relays were carried out entirely on foot,but others stand out due to the novelty of thetransport involved. The torch has been carried byskiers (Oslo 1952) and ski jumpers (Lillehammer1994), by swimmers (Grenoble 1968) and scubadivers (Sydney 2000). The journey has been carriedout on camels (Sydney 2000), in gondolas (Torino2006) and on a flight on Concorde (Albertville 1992).And not only has the flame been transmitted bysatellite (Montreal 1976), but it has been takenaround the world (Athens 2004). The torch (althoughnot, for obvious reasons, the flame) has even made itinto space. Twice. (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000)But while it's easy to be distracted by the scaleand showmanship of these journeys, they would benothing, of course, without the torchbearersthemselves. At times these have numbered in theirthousands and once, at the first winter sports relay inOslo in 1952, just under a hundred. Now, as inPilostratos's time, to be the final torchbearer is anextraordinary privilege - and one that has fallen topeople as varied as a 12-year old schoolgirl (Calgary1988), a doctor (Lake Placid 1980), and an entire icehockey team (Salt Lake City 2002). There have also,of course, been sporting legends: HannesKolehmainen and Paavo Nurmi shared the task oflighting the final cauldrons in Helsinki in 1952, and, atAtlanta in 1996, the honour fell to an ailing but ever-dignified Muhammad Ali.Earlier this year 12,000 torchbearers got thechance to carry an Olympic Torch on a 45,000 kmjourney across Canada to mark the start of theVancouver Games. The next relay, to begin on 18 May2012, will tour the United Kingdom for 70 daysbefore the Olympic flame is carried to London tosignal to the world that the Games can begin. Asever, the final torchbearer for London 2012 remains aclosely guarded secret, but the emphasis on the relayteam is on the young. It will, without doubt, be anevent that those who take part will remember for therest of their lives. "A moment of time to light the path oftomorrow." as one Athens 2004 Olympic torchbearerput it. "The joy of this moment will last a lifetime." It's a message that would have resonated with theOlympic founder, Pierre de Coubertin. Although too frailto attend either the Berlin Olympic Games or theceremony in Athens to mark the historic torch relaythat preceded it, he was able to send a message tothe young athletes entreated with the task."From countless stadia scattered over the surface of the globe there now rises the clamour ofathletic enjoyment, as it once rose from the Hellenicgymnasia," he wrote. "No nation, no class, noprofession is excluded from it. The athletic cult now revived has not only bettered public health. It diffuses a sort of smiling stoicism apt to aid theindividual in his resistance to the daily trials anddepressions of life."...Ask on my behalf the young people gathered... to accept the heritage of my labour and tocomplete what I have begun . in order that theunion of muscle and thought may be finally sealedfor the sake of progress and human dignity."Like the ancient flame itself, it's a message thatstill resonates today.?LeftPreparing tomake a dramaticentrance with theflame atLillehammer in1994 Below rightThe torch iscarried bygondola ahead of the Games in Turin