That day I carried (and extinguished) the Olympic flame | EUROtoday

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TIt started with an announcement in second grade, within the fall of 1991, a couple of months earlier than the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics. “They are looking for young people to carry the Olympic flame. » My mother insisted, “You should try.” » I fill out the bulletin from La Poste, associate of the flame journey, and drop it within the mailbox. A couple of weeks later, a letter informs me: “Congratulations! You are selected to carry the Olympic flame in Paris. You are called to a meeting…. » I am one of 5,500 carriers selected from 100,000 applications. Wow!

I only have a vague memory of the preparatory meeting in a poorly lit room. I just wanted to know if I was selected for the VIP sector of the Champs-Élysées, the highlight of the torch's passing through the capital, broadcast on television. President François Mitterrand received the bearer, then dancer Patrick Dupond paraded during a light show. Magnifying glass. I inherit the neighborhood where I live, 4e borough.

My journey: from Bastille to Saint-Paul. In total: 500 meters. A metro station on line 1. Not bad, all the same. Carrying the flame at age 15 nevertheless has its clothing drawbacks: a white K-Way suit that covers the entire body and silver gloves that stick to the finger. Worse, a white bandana on his head. Ridicule doesn't kill, they say. At 15, we doubt it.

December 14, 1991. The big day has arrived. The flame flew by Concorde from Athens to Roissy. My teenage buttons are oozing with excitement. I'm going to carry the Olympic flame! At the Bastille, on the rue Saint-Antoine side, my snowman outfit serves as a pass for the police. An adult chaperone positions himself to run alongside me.

Here it is ! I'm taking over. Getting started is more complicated than it seems. It's bitterly cold and the steel alloy torch designed by Philippe Starck slides on the silver gloves. “Above all, don’t drop it, Olivier. ” I'm going for it. I told a friend whose family runs a fruit and vegetable store on the route to greet me. Metal barriers were installed on both sides of Rue Saint-Antoine to protect the convoy. I run. Proud. I feel like I'm flying. What emotion !

Alas, 500 meters is too short. This is already the person who takes over for me in front of the Saint-Paul metro station. At least the flame didn't fall. And my Olympic day has only just begun. A bus follows the Olympic procession and picks us up after each relay. We continue on rue de Rivoli to the town hall then the Élysée.

The television broadcast of the course has started. François Mitterrand, Patrick Dupond…. We, the young porters, wait happily with our white bandanas behind the Arc de Triomphe, avenue de la Grande-Armée. Here is the flame again for a next relay. ” Wait ! » I say to my comrades, to whom I say, showing off, “And if we blow, what happens? » I take my breath and exhale heavily on the flame… which goes out! Damn… “Olivier, you’re really stupid!” » exclaims an organizer who grabs the torch. He heads in direction of a van which – to my nice aid – rigorously preserves the unique flame lit in Olympia within the again. We rekindle the flame. Phew!

To attain La Défense from the Arc de Triomphe, I place myself within the entrance line of the porters. I'm sweating in my Ok-Way. Arriving on the esplanade, I stand alongside the porter to greet the welcoming committee. A generously plump politician with a Southern accent greets me coolly on the steps of the Arche de la Défense. “But what the hell are you doing right here? Come on, get out! » On December 14, 1991, I carried the flame. I turned it off. And I met Charles Pasqua.