By Rebecca Ryser
The Olympic ideal that has long been a dream for many Utahns began to burn as a reality Monday, Nov. 19.
At the Temple of Hera, near the ancient Olympic stadium in Olympia, Greece, the Olympic torch began its run to Salt Lake City Monday at 3 a.m. MST, 81 days before the Games begin in Salt Lake.
“Today, more than ever before, at a time when humanity is shaken by tragic events, we hope that the message conveyed by the Olympic flame may find staunch supporters during its long journey from Ancient Olympia to Salt Lake City,” said Lambis Nikolaou, head of the Hellenic Olympic Committee.
Due to incremental weather, the flame traditionally lit using a parabolic mirror to collect the sun”s rays, was ignited in the mirror at a practice session last Saturday, said Mitt Romney, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. It had been kept burning in lamps, according to The Associated Press.
Thalia Prokopiou, a Greek actress representing a Grecian High Preistess, carried the fire out of the ruins in a flaming Olympic cauldron.
Following a series of speeches in the Pierre de Coubertin Grove, the Olympic flame was used to light the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic torch in the hands of Lefteris Fafalis, a Greek cross-country skier dressed in the colors of the Salt Lake Games.
The torch will run a two-day relay to Athens, where it will burn in the all-marble Panathenian stadium until it is flown to the Atlanta on Dec. 4, according to The Associated Press.
“The flame of the Olympic Torch is what burns inside of so many Olympians,” Romney said. “Their passion, determination, sacrifice and ambition can alight a complacent world, for the Olympics inspire us, lift us.”