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September 14, 2000
Torch bearer No 147 tells of his journey
Prince Albert of Monaco
Throughout the Sydney Olympics, IOC member and former Olympic athlete Prince Albert of Monaco will give Reuters his impressions about the Games.
On Thursday, the prince, torch bearer number 147, carried the flame in the streets of Sydney.
When I was first offered the chance to carry the torch, my only haunting fear was to take the place of somebody else, somebody as worthy or more worthy of the honour than myself. Personally, since I already had the opportunity to carry it at Atlanta, I could have given up my place.
In Atlanta, I carried it in very different conditions.
It was at night, in heavy heat, around two in the morning. There was a lot of confusion and the crowd was unbelievable, so unbelievable that I had to walk the first few metres.
Here in Sydney, I was able to realise more clearly what was happening. We arrived at the spot in a minibus with a dozen torch-bearers with whom I had a chance to discuss.
We introduced ourselves -- I introduced myself as an Olympian, as an athlete who took part in four winter Olympics in bobsleigh and as a member of the IOC.
On the route, once again, I was stunned by the fondness created by the passing of the flame. I found that moment intense and too short for I would have liked to carry it further. Very moving.
For a man or a woman, whatever one's origin or condition, to carry the flame, the Olympic symbol for the entire world, is extraordinary.
The flame is what makes the difference between the Olympic Games and other sports events. In front of such a symbol, we are nothing. When it blazes in the Olympic bowl in the stadium, I shall be just as moved.
Actually, I'm moved every time, because that moment remains the strongest in an opening ceremony, unbelievably strong.
To carry the flame is done in such a spirit of union. To carry the torch is the strongest, the most human link between us. To carry the flame is to be the warden of that spirit, it is even, for a few minutes, to be in charge of it.
For me, carrying the flame is to be even more of a link with the Olympic spirit, it is an opportunity to reinforce my role in this movement. You know, when I was carrying it, children came to me to touch it : such moments are extremely strong.
At times I feared that it might blow out or become too hot and then I was afraid I might trip over. I was also careful to smile so as to share the real happiness I felt.
I came across fantastic people, touching ones like Sarah, an Australian athlete who was caught in the collapse of a bridge during the last Maccabiah Games. Despite several operations, she still feels some pain. She told us her story, she moved us and then helped us transmit this symbol.
In 1996, when I was carrying it, I had thought about the grandfather I have not known, John Kelly, who was rowing Olympic champion in single and double scull in 1920 and in double scull in 1924 and also about his son John, whom we called Jack, who was bronze medallist in skiff in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
Like in Atlanta, I was especially proud and honoured to be this little link once again.
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