The Spirit Arrives

The Spirit Arrives

TV Week: June 3-9, 2000

This week, the Olympic flame arrives in Australia for its relay around the country. It will be one of the most star-studded events of the 2000 Olympic Games.

The Olympic torch touches down at Uluru this week, to begin the Australian leg of a torch relay that will wind its way around the nation before igniting the giant cauldron of Stadium Australia in Sydney on September 15 – the opening day of the 2000 Olympic Games.Tracey Holmes from the Seven Network’s The Olympic Show has been selected as one of the celebrity runners in the torch relay, along with Home and Away‘s Kate Ritchie and All Saints star Erik Thomson

While Tracey, one of the country’s most respected sports broadcasters, is excited by the arrival of the torch, she’s more excited by what the journey of the torch means.

“The significance of all this was brought home to me four years ago in Atlanta,” says Tracey, who will be running with the torch in Albury, NSW. “I saw a small boy standing by the side of the road with his family, and he was telling a local TV reporter why he had waited so long.

“He said, ‘I’m waiting because I want to be here when the torch goes past. Not that I will be able to see it, because I’m blind, but I want to tell my grandkids in the years to come that I felt the Olympic spirit pass by.’

“That story touched me so deeply,” Tracey continues. “And I think that’s what the Olympic torch flame and relay actually means to Australians – the spirit of the Olympic Games is in our country.”

The Olympic torche arrives in Uluru this Thursday (June 8) after its journey through Oceania. The first person to run with the torch will be 1996 hockey gold medallist Nova Peris-Kneebone – before another 10,000 torchbearers will travel with the Olympic flame on its 27,000km trip around the country over the next 100 days.

Highlights of each days’ relay will be screened on such programs as Seven Nightly News, Today Tonight, Sunrise, Sportsworld and The Olympic Show.

Of those 10,000 torchbearers, 50 will be Seven Network personalities. Kate will run her leg of the relay in Bruce in the ACT, while Erik will carry the torch through Broken Hill in outback NSW.

“I can’t believe I have been asked to do this,” an excited Kate says. “It was such a thrill that the network thought enough of me to be included in the relay. I’m so flattered, and I really can’t wait. This is the experience of a lifetime.”

Erik is also amazed by his inclusion in the torch relay.

“To be asked to participate in one of the biggest things that has ever happened in Australia is an honour,” he says.

Acompanying runners in every state and territory will be two special Olympic torch relay cyclists from the respective police forces. When Kate, Erik and Tracey visited Stadium Australia, they were met by the assigned NSW police cyclists, senior constables Dave Gardiner (far left) and Brett Gillar (far right).”Running with the torch has been an ambition of my mother Lyn,” Tracey concludes. “She remembers Ron Clarke lighting the flame at the MCG at the 1956 Melbourne Games.

“So, as I run with the flame, I will be thinking, ‘Oh, I wish Mum was with me’.”

by John Burfitt

Very special thanks to Tara for the scans of the article and to Tanya for the copy of the article. I am most utterly grateful!

Article copyright ©2000 John Burfitt/TV Week (Australia)