Iconic Photos

Famous, Infamous and Iconic Photos

The 1992 Barcelona Olympics

with 8 comments

They say modern Olympics began in 1896 with Pierre de Coubertin. In fact, the Olympics as we know it today began in 1992 Barcelona. Before Barcelona, the public interest in the games had been pretty low. For instance, Los Angeles had been the only bidder for the 1984 Games. However, LA’s commercial success made the next bidding process, in 1986, hotly contested. Barcelona beat Paris, Belgrade, Brisbane, Amsterdam and Birmingham (?!)  to host the Games. With the fall of the Soviet Union, its athletic hegemony too was gone, with many newly independent states from the former USSR and Yugoslavia participating as independent states. (Many CIS states participated under the banner of the United Team.) With the Iron Curtain and the Apartheid gone, Germany and South Africa returned to the games.

Also, the 1992 Games mark the beginning of the flamboyant opening torch ignitions that has been the Olympic norm since. An archer who competed in the Paralympic Games, Antonio Rebollo lit the flame by firing a burning arrow towards the cauldron. Well, actually he didn’t, but it seemed he did. Rebollo was instructed to overshoot the cauldron for safety measures (although shooting a flaming arrow into the Barcelona night sky isn’t probably that much safer), and the cauldron was gradually releasing fuel into the air, so when the flaming arrow passed over it, it ignited itself, tricking the eye.

Some 200 archers were initially chosen based on three criteria: they must have no fear of fire; must be able to use an ancient-style wooden bow (without modern sighting devices); and they must already be precise enough to shoot from a distance of about 100 steps. To keep the ceremony a secret, they could not practice in the main Olympic stadium, and trained secretly on a hillside nearby in the early hours when no one was around. For ten months, there were sunrise practices with actually flaming arrows which singed fingers and machines that simulated various weather conditions and crowds. Four finalists were kept until just two hours prior to the ignition, lest an accident would occur (with flaming arrows, they usually do). But Rebollo was not appreciated: he later complained to a Spanish newspaper that he received no official accreditation or tickets to see any of the events, not even the archery!

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

April 6, 2010 at 1:23 am

8 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. My favorite was the arrival of the flame in Lillehammer in 1994, when a ski jumper skied it off a jump and landed perfectly with the flame in hand. His balance must’ve been ruined by the flame, and it always impressed me.

    Walter

    April 6, 2010 at 2:01 am

  2. “With the Iron Curtain and the Apartheid gone, Germany and South Africa returned to the games.”

    Erm, what? When exactly was there no German team participating in the games? In fact, between 1960 and 1988, there were even two of them (FRG and GDR).

    Krischn

    April 6, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    • They mean Germany, a UNITED Germany, not East or West!! Get with it.

      tombo

      April 29, 2010 at 1:55 pm

  3. Genial, en primer lugar felicitarte por tan estupendo blog que sigo asiduamente.
    Todos los acontecimientos de este calibre siempre tienen su porcentaje de error, y precisamente el día de la ceremonía lo tuvo….“La flecha olímpica no entró“.
    Mira este video de mi baúl…
    http://vodpod.com/watch/610129-la-flecha-olmpica-no-entr?pod=elbauldejosete
    Un saludo.

    Josete

    April 7, 2010 at 6:16 am

  4. Uh, I don’t think a fiberglass recurve is “an ancient-style wooden bow”.

    Para

    April 7, 2010 at 9:56 pm

  5. […] Pietri; American basketball team’s controversial loss; Jesse Owens gets cheers; Antonio Rebollo lights the flame; the bloody water-polo match; terrorism rears its ugly hooded head. Follow me on Twitter […]

  6. […] Antonio Rebollo, never practiced in the stadium itself. For the rest of the story, check out Iconic Photos. Share […]

  7. […] Pietri; American basketball team’s controversial loss; Jesse Owens gets cheers; Antonio Rebollo lights the flame; the bloody water-polo match; terrorism rears its ugly hooded […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: