|The convoy and the operation
Besides the escorts, the bearers had the support
of a complex organisation. They gathered at a meeting point -the bearers'
centre- where they were accredited, received the uniform, changed, handed
in their clothes for safe-keeping and were given the torch. From there
they were taken to the place where they were to start their relay. That
point, which the bearers already knew -and therefore also their families
and friends who wanted to watch and accompany them-, had been marked the
previous day by the vanguard of the convoy with a sticker indicating the
number of the relay. At the bearers' centres the journalists who wanted
to have a place on the convoy press stand were also accredited, a total
of 1,500 all along the route.
In groups of 40, the bearers were taken by
bus from the bearers' centre to a point on the road where the convoy would
pass by. They were then taken in groups of 10 to the starting point of
their relays in minibuses which shuttled backwards and forwards to and
from the convoy. On this journey the bearers received instructions and
advice from monitors on how to run their relay. Once it was finished they
were collected and taken back to the meeting point.
The escort and the bearer made up the heart
of the torch convoy, which consisted of a total of 24 vehicles and 65 members
of the organisation.
The vehicles in the convoy were in four groups:
route pilot, signposting and traffic control, nucleus and support/rearguard.
The route pilot vehicle was responsible for
coordinating the transport of the bearers to and from the main convoy and
seeing that the timetables were observed. The signposting and traffic control
vehicles always travelled 500 metres ahead of the bearer and escort to
slow down the traffic coming in the opposite direction and place the cones
and flags which marked out the relays.
The vehicles which made up the nucleus were
the ones which travelled immediately in front of and behind the bearer
and the escort. The press platform (a vehicle specially designed for photographic
coverage of the event) went just ahead of the bearer. Then came the convoy
management vehicle which carried the safety lamp (containing an "original"
Olympic flame to relight the torches if they went out accidentally) and
the Red Cross vehicle. The rear of the convoy was brought up by the support
and rearguard vehicles, among them the mobile changing
room, the catering vehicle, the services vehicle
and the one for picking up the signposts and markers. Two mobile offices
were installed at the hotels where the convoy stayed; the media services
were located in one of them. Dinner and breakfast were always taken there
and lunch too along some of the stages. Most frequently, however, lunch
was eaten on the way or at the bearers' centres. The convoy functioned
very well, as demonstrated by the success with the public of the entire
itinerary of the Barcelona'92 torch. This aspect has already been covered
in detail in Volume IV of this Official
The journey of the Olympic torch around the
17 autonomous communities of Spain started and finished in Catalonia. The
route passed through 652 different places and stopped in 60 towns. The
total distance - about 6,000 kilometres - was covered by 9,500 bearers
who ran relays on foot; for the longer stretches with greater distances
between built-up areas there were 2,500 relays on bicycles. Oddly enough,
the stretches which caused most problems with the schedule were the ones
covered by bicycle.
Route of the torch around Spain
Santiago de Compostela
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Palma de Mallorca
The Olympic flame lights up the Stadium
After the celebration of the past, the Olympic
torch entered thought the south gate borne by Herminio Menéndez,
the Spanish athlete who had won most Olympic medals, and made one almost
complete lap amidst the general emotion. Then one of the most jealously
guarded screts of the opening ceremony was revealed: the basketball player
Juan Antonio San Epifanio, "Epe", was awaiting the flame in front of the
grandstand to run the last relay. Beside the Marathon gate, the Olympic
archer waited with the arrow with which he had to light the cauldron atop
the Stadium. At that moment, the audience, in unison, lit the flares which
tew were supposed to keep for the European anthem at the end of the ceremony.
With this gesture, a host of blue and yellow lights swaying in harmony
accompanied the last relay of the torch to the stage.
For the first time at the Games, an archer
would ignite the fire which would preside day and night from the cauldron
over the competitions with a flaming arrow. The torch carried by the last
bearer touched the arrow and the archer, Antonio Rebollo, a Paralympic
athlete, prepared to shoot with the precision which characterises one of
the most ancient Olympic sports.
The arrow described an arc an lit the gas
issuing from the cauldron; the flame soared up to a height of three metres.
The most eagerly awaited moment of the ceremony had come and gone to general
(Source document: Official
Report 1992, Vol. III, page 35 and Vol. IV)
Read more: Vol. III, page 33 - 37 and Vol IV page 35