Who will light the Olympic cauldron at the opening ceremony? Perhaps David Beckham? Sebastian Coe? Queen Elizabeth?
By Mike Tierney, Special to Universal Sports
There are few secrets anymore, but Olympics organizers past and present have managed to keep the identity of the flame-lighter at opening ceremonies unrevealed until the magic moment. Efforts for concealment often pays off with an unforgettable scene. Muhammad Ali igniting the caldron in Atlanta remains the most lasting image of the 1996 Games.
The name of the chosen one in London has yet to leak out, which has heightened speculation on who will fire things up. It has centered around former rower Steve Redgrave, who paddled in five Olympics and won gold in each. Assuming legendary runner Roger Bannister, 83, can climb the stadium steps, the first sub-four-minute miler is a candidate. Others in the discussion are ex-decathlete Daley Thompson, soccer star/underwear endorser David Beckham and, from the women’s side, runner Kelly Holmes.
The British are fond of handing out honorary titles to its most beloved citizens, which might give the two Sirs — Sir Redgrave and Sir Bannister — an edge over the others. The great runner Lord Sebastian Coe would be a leading contender, but he is chairman of the London organizing committee.