Olympic Opening Ceremonies 2012: 5 Best Choices to Light the Cauldron in London
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
London and Great Britain will host the 2012 Olympic Games, giving them the honor of creating a spectacle for those in attendance and an estimated billion viewers on television. One of the best-kept secrets is who will have the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron.
It is logical to expect this to be a former Olympian. However, Great Britain isn't exactly long on its list of superstars.
At a minimum we'll expect this to be an athlete from the U.K.
The organizing committee could choose from one of their nautical greats or one of their few stars from track and field.
Then again, they could throw us all and have Sir Paul McCartney light the flame as part of his performance's pyrotechnic display.
Following are five athletes that would be deserving of the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron.
5. Sebastian Coe
It would be a bit self-serving for the head of the London Organizing Committee to also get the honor of lighting the Olympic flame. However, Sebastian Coe is one of the premier middle-distance runners in Olympic history.
He is the only male runner to win two gold medals at 1,500 meters, having done so in the boycott-affected games of 1980 and 1984.
Coe will be a bit busy watching the event and delivering his nation's address, and he's already shown he is still spry enough to make a run with the torch.
4. Andy Murray
Does Murray's duty end with the honor of carrying the torch? Or was this a ploy to give him a practice opportunity?
While it might be odd to have an athlete competing in the games serve as the official lighter of the cauldron, Murray is certainly the current toast of the town.
Wimbledon hadn't had a representative from Great Britain in the finals since 1938 and Murray's presence there earlier in the month kept the streak from reaching 75 years.
There have been a lot of variations of taking the flame from the torch to the cauldron. Having Murray return a volley from 67-year-old Virginia Wade (the last countrywoman to win Wimbledon) would be an appropriate way to kick off the games.
3. Steve Redgrave
Many consider Steve Redgrave to be the logical choice to light the cauldron. After all, he's Great Britain's most decorated summer Olympian.
Redgrave is one of the premier rowers of all time, taking home a gold medal in five straight games. He also added a bronze medal to his hardware.
Perhaps Redgrave being the logical choice is exactly why I have him a bit down my list. Opening Ceremonies tend to favor intrigue and maybe a bit of controversy.
Would Redgrave offer any of that? The London organizers will want to spark some debate, but will likely opt for an option short of a lip-synch scandal.
That aside, a rower doesn't offer many theatrical options with lighting the torch.
2. David Beckham
Ric Tapia/Getty Images
The British Olympic Committee decided that David Beckham was either too old to represent his country as a player, or they had a more important role than using him to bring home Great Britain's first football medal since 1912.
There have been few sportsmen who have embraced representing their country like Beckham, and being left off his country's only Olympic roster of his lifetime was a huge blow.
Football, at least the world's version and not the version played in the United States, is the sport in Great Britain, and Beckham is royalty in the sport.
There are few better means of opening the games than having Beckham bend a flaming ball into the cauldron.
Then again, the shock of not making the Olympic team might be enough for him to shank one off his boot.
1. Daley Thompson
Daley Thompson was Coe's track and field teammate at the boycott-affected games. He also competed in 1988 but missed the podium by one spot.
Still, Thompson won two gold medals in the decathlon. He also won the 1983 World Championships and established and improved upon the world record during his run.
Thompson has been present during the torch relay and will have a chance with the flame this week. He'd be the logical choice if Coe had the final say, but Lord Coe denies having a say in whom the final bearer will be, according to the Daily Mail:
"It will be a judgment made by our creative teams led by Danny Boyle and Stephen Bayley, and of course I will be a part of that but I have been very, very clear that it is not my call.
"I am certainly not pushing one person over another, and it still has not been decided, absolutely not.
"Do I have a view on this personally or privately? Yes of course.
"Have I asked our creative teams to get their minds around this? Yes I have. Have we made a judgement about this? No, we haven't.
"Is Daley Thompson a really close friend of mine? Yes he is, it's probably not the best-kept secret that he's probably my closest friend."
-Sebastian Coe, London 2012 chairman, on the final torch decision
Coe's apparently self-directed interview did little to offer insight on who will get the honor, but he did set up the creative team to take the credit or the fall based on how the lighting is received.
Thompson's varied skills would certainly open a plethora of lighting options. I'm a bit partial to the idea of a flaming javelin soaring through the cauldron and lighting the flame.