Passed from hand to hand, the Olympic flame has become one of the great symbols of sport. The relay from the ruins at Olympia in Greece forges a powerful bond with the Ancient Olympic Games. Using original documents, The Story of the Olympic Torch chronicles the development of the run as the first great event of the Games. It describes the symbolism as the spark is kindled from the rays of the sun in Olympia at the start of the journey. It reveals the obstacles faced by organisers in 1948 before the flame could be brought to London. It explains why three Olympic torch relays were organised in 1956, and the many original ways the flame has been transported, from under the ocean to the highest mountain. The lighting of the cauldron is the final dramatic moment of an opening ceremony, but it is by no means the oldest part of the Olympic ritual. Barker explores the importance of music and the five Olympic Rings. Tables detail the facts and figures of each relay and for the first time list every runner to have carried the torch on British soil and the main stopping points of the route for 2012. The roll of honour also includes those who have taken the Olympic Oath.
Born in Hackney, Philip Barker carried the Olympic torch in 1996. He has worked as a television journalist for twenty-five years. He began his career with Trans World Sport, then as a reporter for Skysports News and the ITV breakfast programme. A regular Olympic pundit on BBC Radio, Sky News and Talksport, he covered the IOC Session, which gave London the 2012 Games, as a commentator for Eurosport. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Olympic History, has lectured at the National Olympic Academy and contributed extensively to Team GB publications. He sits on the committee of the Sports Journalists Association of Great Britain and is also a member of the executive committee of the Union of European Sports Journalists (UEPS).