Monday, 28 November 2011

The History Of The Olympic Torch (Part 1)

Dear Readers,

After my last post about the logo of Olympic begining our first ever recorded olympic event Athen 1896 right to the upcoming olympic to be hosted by London in the year 2012, click here for related post and I decided to prepare another post all about the Olympic torch ever crossed the continent before the grand event of the olympic begins to where the torch bearer light the fire of olympic which marks the begining of the sports. 

According to wikipedia resource "The Olympic Flame or Olympic Torch is a symbol of the Olympic Games. Commemorating the theft of fire from the Greek god Zeus by Prometheus, its origins lie in ancient Greece, where a fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics. The fire was reintroduced at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam, and it has been part of the modern Olympic Games ever since. According to legend, the torch's flame has been kept burning ever since the first Olympics."

Flame from the ancient games was reintroduced during the 1928 Games. An employee of the Electric Utility of Amsterdam lit the first Olympic flame in the Marathon Tower of the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam.

But the first ever olympic torch relay introduced in mordern day Olympic started in 1936 where the olympic was hosted by Berlin. The idea of Olympic Torch Relay approved by the International Olympic Committee  came from Carl Deim during that time he was the Secretatry General of the Berlin Games Organising Committee to carry the flame in relay from Olympia to Berlin.

The National Olympic Committees of Greece, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany (the seven countries which the flame relay went through) were entirely favourable to the idea and cooperated enthusiastically in the project. The Organising Committee planned a route crossing the capitals of each of these countries.
The torch itself, designed by the sculpor Lemcke, was in polished steel. On the handle, the inscription "Fackelstaffel-Lauf Olympia-Berlin 1936", with Olympic rings and the German eagle superimposed. On the bottom part, the line of the flame's route from Olympia to Berlin. On the platform, the inscription "Organisazions-Komitee für die XI. Olympiade Berlin 1926 Als Dank dem Trager". 

 Since we have known briefly about how the Olympic Torch Relay started in the Modern Olympic, now let us get to know what are the meaning of each torch designed for the Olympic event held every 4 year for every olympic host since the 1st medern olympic torch designed for the Olympic Torch relay in the year 1936.

Note: The detailed information of the torch in this post is remained to preserve the originality of the author/resource of the information.

Berlin 1936 Olympic Torch

Two secondary relays carried the flame from Olympic Stadium in Berlin to the off-site aquatic venues: Grunau (for the rowing course), and Kiel (yachting). The cauldron in Kiel sat in an old Hanseatic galley in the bay. Kiel would also be the yachting site of the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The first torch relay was staged ahead of the Berlin Games. Designed by sculptor Walter Lemcke and manufactured by steel and armaments giant Freidrich Krupp, 3,840 torches were made for 3,331 runners.
Two separate fuses ensured they could re-ignite should the burning point fall away. They were stainless steel, 27cm long and weighed 450g.

London 1948 Special Olympic Torch
There were three types of torches used during the relay : a standard torch, a torch with a gas recipient for the sea crossing and a torch for the last runner (here).
The torch carried the inscription "XIV OLYMPIAD LONDON 1948" and was in stainless steel. It was created for the last leg of the race, the entrance to the stadium. The flame was in magnesium so it would burn brightly and been seen beyond the stadium even in bright sunshine.
London 1948 Normal Olympic Torch
 The last time the Olympic Games and a torch relay were held in the UK was in 1948. That torch was designed by Ralph Lavers, a fan of classical architecture. He needed to create something inexpensive but well-crafted for a torch to travel across Europe ahead of the "Austerity Games". Two types were made - one aluminium, with hexamine/naphthalene tablets stacked up inside and one for the final stretch in the stadium with a magnesium flame in a stainless steel holder, to be seen in bright daylight.

Helsinki 1952 Olympic Torch

It was reported that Only 22 torches were made, rather than a mass production of hundreds. Instead, there were 1,600 gas canisters made to fuel them. Men ran with the torch for a 1km stretch, women slightly less. The torches were passed between runners and swapped for one with a fresh canister after about 20 minutes.
A 600g silver top rested in a curly birch holder. They were given to Olympic and sports organisations after the Games. 

According to, one of the Torch  was sold for $185000 during a 2006 Auction.

Melbourne 1956 Olympic Torch
This Torch designed looks almost similar to the 1948 London Summer Olympic, according to the reason for this similar design was an effort continuity of the olympic games

Ralph Lavers' London design is credited with inspiring the Melbourne torches. Equestrian events were held in Stockholm so the torch travelled to Sweden and Australia. Down Under, the torch was diverted around floods and braved bumpy roads that threatened to extinguish the back-up miners' lights. The times estimated for runners to complete each mile varied as it went through the tropics and temperate climes. It reached Melbourne after being carried 20,470km by 3,118 runners.

Rome 1960 Olympic Torch
It was intentionally based on a classic model, inspired by the torches reproduced on ancient monuments. The base bears the inscription: "Giocchi della XVII Olympiade". 

The slim, fluted design of the bronzed aluminium 580g torch was based on those seen on ancient monuments. The relay travelled from Greece, following the course taken by the ancients when they founded colonies on Sicily and the Italian peninsular to create Magna Grecia. The torch was design by Pier Luigi Nervi.

Tokyo 1964 Olympic Torch

It was made of a cylindrical tube covered in stainless steel and filed with gunpowder and smoke. The support was designed to go with the torch and was specially made in aluminium to limit its weight. It carries the inscription "XVIII Olympiad Tokyo 1964", alongside the Olympic rings. 

The torch travelled by air, land and sea from Olympia to Tokyo. In Japan, the flame split along four routes before reuniting. Yoshinori Sakai, born in Hiroshima on 6 August, 1945, the day the atomic bomb dropped, was the final runner and lit the cauldron. When the torch entered the stadium, chrysanthemum perfume was released from sprayers under the spectator stands.

Mexico 1968 Olympic Torch
Its design recaptures the "Mexico 68" logo, featured on the emblem as well as on the posters. It is cone-shaped, grooved and carved, and bears the inscription "MEXICO 68" on the top at the side where the flame comes out.
The 3,000 whisk-like torches featured a 3-D Mexico '68 emblem on the flaming top. The relay followed the route of Christopher Columbus from Europe to the New World where, for the first time, the cauldron was lit by a woman, Enriqueta Basileo. The solid fuel mixture was unexpectedly volatile - some minor explosions occurred and runners were slightly burned.

Munich 1972 Olympic Torch
 "Spiele der XX Olympiade München 1972" on the combustion tube. On the handle, the Olympic rings and the emblem of the Games, representing a crown of rays of light. 

The games marred by a terrorist attack we easthetically defined by Frei Otto's tent like stadium and
Otl Aicher's widely-adopted sporting stickmen were a key design feature of the Games. The gas torch was made of nickel chromium steel in three parts - handle, plate and fire pipe screwed together. It was tested for resilience to extreme weather - including with a hand-spray to simulate heavy rain. But not for extreme heat - when temperatures hit 46C en route from Greece to Germany, special pressurised torches had to be used.

Montreal 1976 Olympic Torch

The graphics and design management team of the Organising Committee for these Games opted for a functional design and a lightweight material, aluminium, thinking that each runner had to run one kilometre holding the torch. The colour black was chosen with the aim of making the flame more visible on the photographs.

They designed a red-handled torch with black burner and a gold and black special presentation edition. The flame was for the first time carried by a laser beam via satellite from Athens to Ottowa. But the torch ran on the more-traditional olive oil. On 22 July the Olympic cauldron went out during a storm and was re-lit from the back-up flame.
Moscow 1980 Olympic Torch

On the handle, the caption: "Moskva Olimpiada 1980" (Moscow Olympiad 1980). On the platform, the emblem of the Games.

Different again from what had come before, the gold and silver torch had a cup on top of a burner and the handle was shielded by a protective screen. Leningrad enterprises made 6,200 gas torches designed by Boris Tuchin. It was registered as a state invention of the USSR and given certificate number 729414.

Resource from :


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  2. Thanks for such wonderful post about torchs.

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  3. Thanks Fatmi. So glad you liked it.


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