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Sequel to 1956 Olympic Opening Ceremony

Sequel to 1956 Olympic Opening Ceremony

On the afternoon of 22nd November 1956, a crowd of 103,000 cheered on 18-year-old Ron Clarke (pictured) as he ran into the Melbourne Cricket Ground carry­ing the Olympic torch. It was the Opening Ceremony of the Mel­bourne Olympics - the first Olympics in the southern hemi­sphere.

Now 61, Clarke says his most outstanding memory of lighting the Olympic flame was the excite­ment of when he first ran onto the track. "I had to stop and hold the flag, and to have this wave of sound meet you, I think that was the most thrilling part."

The Victorian distance runner went on to become a world champion. Between 1963 and 1970 he held world records in all running events for distances from three to 20 kilometres.

He now lives on the Gold Coast and is the chief executive officer of the Couran Cove Resort on South Stradbroke Island.

Clarke says the biggest change in the Olympics since the 1956 Melbourne Games is money. "The Olympics have got much more commercialised. I think the biggest change is the money that's involved now and the profession­alism of the competitors, whereas it was all amateur in my day. Now, most of the top competitors are earning a million dollars or more a year."

Clarke is looking forward to being a spectator at the 2000 Sydney Olympics with tickets for every day of the athletics. He still runs for an hour every morning.

This page last updated: Saturday 20 March 2010

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