Jun. 05, 2004
Former champion runner Betty Cuthbert carried the Olympic flame into the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Saturday, the second visit for the torch at a past Summer Games site on its international relay.
Cuthbert won three gold medals at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, capturing the 100- and 200-meter sprints and the 1,600 relay at the cricket ground.
Cuthbert, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1979 and uses a wheelchair, and Herb Elliott, the 1,500 champion at the 1960 Olympics, were among the torchbearers when the relay entered the stadium during halftime of an Australian Football League match.
Earlier Saturday, the torch paraded through Lonsdale Street, the major Greek section of downtown Melbourne.
Aerial skier Lydia Ierodiaconou was the first of the torchbearers in Melbourne, home to the biggest population of Greeks outside Greece.
Andrew Gaze, a five-time Olympic basketball player, ended the Australian segment of the relay when he ran into Federation Square and ignited a cauldron that will burn until the end of the Athens Games.
Gaze, who was captain of the entire Australian contingent at the 2000 Games, took the torch from father Lindsay, who played for or coached the national basketball team at seven Olympics.
On Friday, thousands watched and millions more tuned in on TV to see Olympic 400-meter champion Cathy Freeman take the flame from the Sydney Opera House and lead the international leg of the relay. Freeman had ignited the cauldron to mark the opening of the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
The Athens flame arrived in Sydney aboard a Greek-chartered jumbo jet painted in Olympic colors and dubbed "Zeus".
Sydney and Melbourne were the first two stops on a 46,800-mile torch relay across six continents and 33 cities. The torch was to leave later Saturday for Tokyo, site of the 1964 Games.
All past Summer Olympic host cities are on the relay route as well as 2008 host Beijing.
The torch relay returns to Greece on July 9 for the second half of its
domestic relay before the start of the Aug. 13-29 Olympics.
Copyright © 2004, Associated Press