The Olympic Flame is a symbol of the Games ... commemorating the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus ... a fire was kept burning throughout the celebrations of the ancient Olympics.
|Close up of the torch logo|
The fire was reintroduced at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam – whereas the torch relay of modern times had no ancient precedent and was introduced by Carl Diem at the controversial 1936 Summer Games in Berlin.
The torch is ignited at the Temple of Hera in Olympia several months before the opening ceremony – when eleven women, representing the Vestal Virgins, perform a celebration in which the torch is kindled by the light of the sun, its rays concentrated by a parabolic mirror.
Then it briefly travels around Greece to the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens before being ‘air-lifted’ in our case to Great Britain at its most westerly county, Cornwall – there the 70 day relay began.
The design of the torch has been cleverly worked out those circular holes represent the inspirational stories of the 8,000 torchbearers – while also allowing a view of the burner system which keeps the flame alight (unless you have torrential downpours as we’ve had this year) ...
... oh interestingly I’ve just noticed that it was being tested at BMW’s climatic testing facility in Munich to make sure it can withstand all weathers – I think the all British weathers beat the testing facility?!
The torches stand 800 mm high (31.5”), while weighing as little as possible – 800 grams ... as more than half of the torchbearers were youngsters or suffering from some form of challenge ...
... the special aluminium alloy has been developed in the aerospace and automotive industries – the alloy is lightweight but strong – while those intentional holes reduce the weight of the final design.
The triangular shape was inspired by a series of ‘threes’ that are found in the history of the Olympic Games and the vision for the Olympic Movement:
· values of respect, excellence and friendship;
· the words of the Olympic motto – faster, higher, stronger
· the fact the UK has hosted the Olympic games in 1908, 1948 and 2012
· the vision for this Games is to combine three bodies of work – sport, education and culture.
The gold colour embraces the qualities of the Olympic Flame – the brightness and the warmth of the light that it shines.
|A Viking welcome in the Shetland Islands for the torch|
The torch relay went around the country ... over to Northern Ireland, across the water to the Shetland Islands (and the Vikings) and the Isle of Wight, up mountains – Ben Nevis and Snowdon – across valleys, to historic sites and on to the iconic landmarks of London.
So the torch on its route has been spreading the message of peace, unity and friendship ... at the closing ceremony the flame will be extinguished – the final day of the Games.
|The Isle of Wight|
The fact the torch started its journey in Cornwall is right and fit – as the mechanism that kept the flame alight is the Davy lamp – the safety lamp invented by Sir Humphry Davy from Penzance used by miners around the world ... his statue stands in Market Jew Street in the town.
|Sir Humphry Davy statue,|
Market Jew Street, Penzance
On reaching London the torch had a speedboat trip along the Thames, then Sir Steve Redgrave the five times Olympic gold medallist rower travelled with it in the Gloriana the Royal Barge to the Opening Ceremony.
Each of the seven youngsters nominated by seven Olympic heroes lit a tiny flame ...which after being ignited lit 205 copper petals, one for each competing nation or territory, that then rose on long stems to converge and form a cauldron signifying unity and peace.
Thomas Heatherwick who designed the cauldron has been described by Sir Terence Conran (Habitat) as the “Leonardo da Vinci of our times”...
The seven heroes and seven incredibly talented youngsters are:
· Sir Steve Redgrave chose Cameron MacRitchie a 19 year old rower;
· Sailor Shirley Robertson selected Callum Airlie – 17 years old;
· Swimmer Duncan Goodhew put forward 18 year old Jordan Duckitt – he was chair of the London 2012 Young Ambassador Steering Group for two years;
· Desiree Henry, 16, was nominated by Daley Thompson, who won the 200m title at the World Youth Championships in 2011
· Dame Mary Peters nominated Katie Kirk, a successful 400m European junior runner
· Long Jumper Lynn Davies (1964) opted for javelin thrower Aidan Reynolds ... 18 year old has won three medals
· Dame Kelly Holmes’ nominee was Adelle Tracey – the 19 year old runner ... who has been top of the UK rankings for the past 6 years.
|The copper petals joining to form the|
Olympic Flame in 2012
It was a fitting end for the torch in this Jubilee year to be carried down that life giving force that is the Thames to the Norman and Medieval London that exists today – perhaps hidden, but still obvious if we look.
Drawing together more flames of Olympic life for future generations to be inspired by ...
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories