The Torch – and the Flame – are two of the most recognised symbols at a Games, and London’s Torch will be seen by most of the population on its 70 day journey around the UK.
A perfect fusion of form and function, each Torch design is unique to the Host City and nation and can provide an opportunity to tell the story of its people, places and national character.
In addition to creating an iconic symbol that is instantly recognisable, our chosen designers will have the important job of designing a Torch that can maintain the Flame on its entire journey; the Olympic Flame must stay alight at all times during its 70 day relay.
The Torch should also be light enough for each of the 8,000 Torchbearers to carry; safely protect the Torchbearer from the heat of the flame, and ensure that the flame is bright and visible in all weather conditions.
What will the London 2012 Torches look like? It will be a while before we find out, but in the meantime, here are some favourites from the past...
London 1948: The London 1948 Torch was made of stainless steel, with a magnesium candle. It weighed 960 grams. It is simple and classic and a great example of British craftsmanship.
Atlanta 1996: The 25th Olympiad and the centenary year of the modern Olympics, the Torch weighed 1,600 grams and was made from a combination of aluminium, gold plated brass, and pecan wood. Each aluminium bar wrapped around the head of the Torch represented each of the previous Host Cities of the modern Olympic Games.
I love the detailing and storytelling of this Torch and the care taken to use indigenous materials like the wood.
Muhammad Ali with the Atlanta Torch:
Sydney 2000: The designers of the Sydney Torch came up with a more lightweight, inexpensive design. Fuelled by a mixture of 35% propane (the gas used to heat homes stoves and barbecue grills) and 65% butane) and weighing 1,000 grams, the design of the Torch was inspired by the Sydney Opera House and the curves of a boomerang. The three layers of the Torch represent earth, fire and water.
The public line the streets to welcome the Torch:
Torino 2006: The heaviest Olympic Torch to date, weighing in at almost 2 kilograms, this design from Pininfarina also housed the most efficient duel burning system. This Torch is quintessentially Italian, stylish, sleek and impactful. It worked brilliantly on television and in pictures.
The Torino Torch (left) is lit in Olympia:
With each of these Torches beong so special and different it is almost impossible to choose. But my favourite? Why the London 2012 Torch of course!
Which of the Torches is your favourite? What do you think the London 2012 Torch should look like?