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Enriqueta Basilio - Olympic torch - Athletics

Enriqueta Basilio - Olympic torch - Athletics

10/09/2013

Enriqueta Basilio - Olympic torch - Athletics

Hurdler Enriqueta Basilio made history in these Games not by her sporting brilliance, but by something more symbolic. She became the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron. Basilio was a 20-year-old Mexican runner of great promise. She competed in the the 400m, the 4x100m relay and the 80m Hurdles, but it was her performance at the Opening Ceremony that drew her to the notice of the World.

She received the flame outside the Olympic stadium from a military cadet. She then held the torch and set off through the entrance to the arena, to be greeted euphorically by the 100,000 spectators, as well as the athletes who had gathered inside for the ceremony.

She ran up the long, grand staircase that took her to the top of stadium and then stood on the platform supporting the Olympic cauldron. Basilio held the torch north, east, south and west before lighting the cauldron.

Since Basilio, a number of women have lit Olympic cauldrons, but it was she was blazed the first path. Her athletic achievements were not quite so memorable – she failed to get past the first heat in any of her events, and never again competed in the Olympics.

Discover the best photos of Mexico 1968

  • Opening Ceremony Mexico 1968

    For the first time in Olympic history, the flame was transported through water by a swimmer. Mexico’s Eduardo Moreno had the honour of carrying the flame for this part of the Relay

    ©United Press International

  • Opening Ceremony Mexico 1968

    Enriqueta Basilio Sotelo climbs the stairs with the Olympic flame

    ©IOC

  • Opening Ceremony Mexico 1968

    Mexican athlete Enriqueta Basilio Sotelo, the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron, climbs the stairs with the Torch

    ©IOC

  • Robert Beamon (USA)

    America’s Robert Beamon produced an amazing achievement in the long jump, setting a world record of 8.90m which remained unbeaten for 23 years…

    ©IOC

  • Lee Evans, Larry James and Ron Freeman (USA)

    On the day after Tommie Smith and John Carlos were sent home, three other Americans achieved a magnificent triple in the 400m: Lee Evans (left) won the gold medal, Larry James (centre) the silver and Ron Freeman (right) the bronze. To show their solidarity with their disgraced compatriots, they wore a black beret during the medals ceremony
    ©Keystone

  • YAAAT006

    Mexico 1968-The nation's flag bearers.

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