The Olympic flame was carried triumphantly through Los Angeles yesterday during a celebrity-studded pageant that concluded with gold medalist Rafer Johnson placing it in a giant caldron at Dodger Stadium as thousands cheered.
The pageant began shortly after 9 a.m. when actor Sylvester Stallone carried the flame through a cheering throng at Venice Beach. It drew to a close nearly 10 hours later, when actor Tom Cruise emerged with it in at the downtown stadium's center field.
Wearing a huge grin, Cruise ran toward left field, then down the foul line, nodding and shouting hello to fans in the stands.
"It was indescribable," he said afterward.
Near the third-base line, Cruise passed the flame to quadruple Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Janet Evans, who passed it on to WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko near home plate.
Klitschko carried it back to center field, where Johnson, the Olympic decathlon champion who ignited the flame over the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, returned it to home plate and placed it in the caldron as the stadium erupted in cheers.
The flame arrived overnight from Mexico. It will visit the previous Summer Olympic cities St. Louis (today) and Atlanta (Friday), then travel through New York on Saturday and on to Montreal on Sunday. After that it will head overseas again, on its way to Athens.
Meantime, Joe Jacobi and Matt Taylor, members of the U.S. canoe/kayak slalom team, have been selected to carry the Olympic torch Friday during its trip through Atlanta, Taylor's home town. Jacobi, a Bethesda native, was a gold medalist in the 1992 Games. He and Taylor qualified for the Athens Games in two-man canoe.
Archery Trials Underway
Top-ranked Jennifer Nichols and 2000 Olympic medalist Vic Wunderle finished atop their respective divisions after the first day of round-robin competition at the U.S. Archery Olympic Team Trials in Mason, Ohio.
Wunderle had a score of 2,229, just ahead of three-time Olympian and top-ranked Butch Johnson (2,224) and John Burkett (2,205).
Nichols shot a personal-best 115 in her third match and finished with a score of 2,200, almost 100 points ahead of Stephanie Arnold (2,106). Holding the third spot is two-time Olympian Janet Dykman (2,083).
Following seven round-robin matches today, the field will be cut to eight men and eight women. At the conclusion of the tournament on Saturday, the top three men and women will make the Olympic team.