My first memory of the Olympics was Barcelona, and Antonio Rebello’s memorable lighting of the Olympic cauldron. I was somewhat indifferent to Atlanta and Sydney because of youth and my then lack of interest in sports. I found it difficult to appreciate the choreographed presentations in Athens and Beijing, as I looked forward to seeing the Philippines march in the parade of athletes and, of course, the lighting of the Olympic cauldron.
Although I came to appreciate certain poignant moments of the opening ceremonies of past Olympic Games, call me inattentive, but most of it came as blurry pomp.
London, Danny Boyle and the thousands of Olympic volunteers caught me off-guard. The mix of British humor, pop references, and nostalgia were just about right. The London opening ceremonies epitomized the word “cool” and “grand.”
The following are my favorite moments:
6.) The 500-strong workers who welcomed Sir Steve Redgrave at the stadium.
The workers lined up along the corridor leading to the track, wearing their ever-present hard-hats. This is a heartwarming salute to the blue collar worker.
5.) The British contingent marching to David Bowie’s “Heroes.”
The song “Heroes” could not have been more apt. I got goosebumps watching Team GB walk proudly, as Bowie sang the immortal line: “We can be heroes, just for one day.” The London Olympic Games is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the British athletes. They have worked so hard to earn their places in Team GB, now is their time to shine in front of their family, friends, and countrymen.
4.) Mr. Bean playing “Chariots of Fire.”
Like many track & field athletes, the Oscar-winning movie about Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams have had a profound personal impact. But when I saw Rowan Atkinson hitting that definitive note of Chariots of Fire fame, I literally laughed out loud!
3.) James Bond escorts Queen Elizabeth II.
Need I say more?
2.) David Beckham drives the speedboat bearing the Olympic flame.
I’ve always admired David Beckham’s dedication to his international duties as a footballer. His significant role in London’s Olympic bid and his being evergreen on the pitch were more than enough to earn him a Team GB slot. His role as the speedboat driver to the Olympic torch bearer paid homage to his efforts to bring the Olympics to Britain.
1.) The lighting of the Olympic Cauldron.
Instead of picking one particular sporting great to light the cauldron, the organizers chose seven talented teenage athletes nominated by the biggest British sporting icons. It was a figurative and literal passing of the torch. It speaks volumes of a country that honors its past and nurtures is present and future athletes. I must admit that this unique way of lighting the cauldron caught me off-guard, but in a pleasantly emotional manner.