SYDNEY — The identity of the person who will light the cauldron at the Olympics remains a mystery after organisers revealed Dawn Fraser, Greg Norman and Pat Rafter would carry the torch in Sydney before the opening ceremony.

Sydney’s Olympic minister Michael Knight said the identity of the person to light the cauldron on September 15 — following in the faltering footsteps of Muhammad Ali at Atlanta – would remain the most closely guarded secret of the Olympic Games.

But he gave a small clue on Thursday when he said the person chosen by himself and Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates was likely to be one of the 1,000 people who carried the flame during its 100-day journey around the country.

‘John and I made a decision a long time ago not to say to people who are potential candidates for the 15th, we’re not going to allow you to not carry the torch anywhere else.

‘Because that’s not fair to them and it allows people to play the guessing game,’ said Knight.

‘Almost certainly the people who are carrying the torch within the stadium, including the final torch bearer, will have run the torch earlier somewhere in Australia.

‘John and I have decided that the best way to keep that secret is to not make the decision until right near the end so it’s an easy secret to keep.’

Fraser popular choice

Dawn Fraser, the popular choice in Australia to light the cauldron, was chosen to carry the flame along Sydney’s busiest street on the day before the opening ceremony.

Fraser, who won four Olympic golds during the 1950s and 1960s and is one of just three swimmers to win the same event at three different Games, said she planned to ask the organisers to allow her to carry it along the waterfront regardless of what other plans they had in store.

‘I’ve been taken from the water and put on dry land,’ she said, unimpressed.

The other favourite to light the cauldron is Ron Clarke, the barefooted middle-distance runner who lit the flame when Melbourne hosted the 1956 Olympic Games. Clarke will carry the torch around the Melbourne Cricket Ground later this month.

In announcing the identities of some of the final torchbearers, Sydney’s Olympic officials chose a selection of past and present stars from a range of fields.

Olympic sprinter Melinda Gainsford-Taylor will carry the torch around Farm Cove before handing it on to entertainer Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta’s co-star in the 1970s hit film Grease, who will carry the torch around the Opera House.

She will pass it on to Wimbledon finalist Rafter who will take the torch from the Opera House to Circular Quay and hand it on to Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh.

Fraser and former swimming great Murray Rose will each take their turn carrying it up George Street for golfer Karrie Webb to walk it up the steps of Sydney’s Town Hall where it will remain overnight.

Norman, the former world number one and two-time British Open golf champion, will run the prestigious leg across Sydney’s landmark Harbour Bridge on the day of the opening ceremony.

He will hand it to Louise Savage, Australia’s most successful wheelchair athlete, who will in turn give to former world swimming champion Samantha Riley, who missed selection for Sydney, to carry it up the sails of the Opera House in what is sure to be one of the most enduring images of the torch relay.

It will then be handed to a group of schoolchildren who will escort it along the Parramatta River to the Stadium and the cauldron for the official lighting.

Julian Linden Reuters

Source: SOCOG