Local hero Basilio blazes trail for women at Opening Ceremony

Hurdler Enriqueta Basilio made history in these Games not by her sporting brilliance, but by something more symbolic. She became the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron.

Basilio was a 20-year-old Mexican runner of great promise. She competed in the the 400m, the 4x100m relay and the 80m Hurdles, but it was her performance at the Opening Ceremony that drew her to the notice of the World.

She received the flame outside the Olympic stadium from a military cadet. She then held the torch and set off through the entrance to the arena, to be greeted euphorically by the 100,000 spectators, as well as the athletes who had gathered inside for the ceremony.

She ran up the long, grand staircase that took her to the top of stadium and then stood on the platform supporting the Olympic cauldron. Basilio held the torch north, east, south and west before lighting the cauldron.

Since Basilio, a number of women have lit Olympic cauldrons, but it was she was blazed the first path. Her athletic achievements were not quite so memorable – she failed to get past the first heat in any of her events, and never again competed in the Olympics.


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