Lighting the Torch
Looking back, three lightings stand out in my mind.
Third is the Winter Games in Torino. It was simply a stunning visual spectacle, worthy of the games.
Second was the Barcelona Summer Games of 1992. Rather than the traditional parade of athletes, the folks of Barcelona decided to celebrate athletic excellence by demonstrating it. Everyone on the entire planet held their breath as that arrow arced through the sky, and when the cauldron exploded into flame, it was as if we had all made that shot. Glorious!
The Atlanta games came next, and I didn't think they could do anything to top Barcelona.
I was wrong.
They took the standard tradition of honoring past Olympic athletes and raised the bar by giving the torch to Mohammed Ali. Ali never embodied the meaning of the Olymp[ics more than when he took that torch. The wind was against him, blowing the flame away from the wick and up his arm. His body was failing him, Parkinson's robbing him of his trademark wit and flair. But his will never faltered, never failed. He endured the pain of the flames; he withstood the ravages of his body. He held the torch in place until at last the job was done and the cauldron was lit.
That endurance, that tenacity, that sheer will to overcome all obstacles no matter what, that's what the Olympics are all about.
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