The dramatic apex of any Opening Ceremony is the lighting of the Olympic flame. The who and the how questions are always abound as the ceremony draws near. Without further adieu, the Fourth-Place Medal awards for the best cauldron lighting. The winning Olympics gets a gift certificate to Applebee's.
First the award for how:
As the flaming arrow moved towards the cauldron, I, along with everyone watching the Opening Ceremony, hoped beyond all hope that the arrow would hit the target. I even found myself doing the Carlton Fisk "STAY FAIR!" arm-waving. Thankfully, the arrow hit the target, the cauldron burst into flames, and the crowd went wild.
The award for who is a no-brainer:
Muhammad Ali is an icon above all icons, and his connection to the Olympics is a heart-breaking one. He won gold in 1960, but, according to his autobiography, threw the medal in the Ohio River after being refused service in a whites-only restaurant. Ali was reconnected to the Olympics after controlling his Parkinson's Disease to light the cauldron in 1996. Later, he received a replacement medal.
Join the Beijing Bloggers for tonight's Opening Ceremony broadcast. We start at 7:28 ET and promise lots of fun, but no Applebee's gift certificates.