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Spoiler Alert: Final Torch Bearer

After three hours and 45 minutes, the Olympic flame entered the stadium carried by shooter Xu Haifeng, China's first Olympic gold medal winner. Xu passed the flame to Gao Min, a diving Olympic gold medalist for China. She ran about 100 meters and touched the tip of the torch carried by Li Xiaoshuang, an Olympic gold medal winner in gymnastics. Li handed the flame off to Zhan Xugang, weightlifting gold medal winner, who passed the flame to Zhang Jun, gold medal winner in badminton.

Zhang took the torch to the foot of the steps at the end of the stadum oval, handing off to Chen Zhong, a taekwondo gold medal winner. Chen then ran through the sea of athletes on the field to the center of the stadium and climbing steps to touch the torch of Sun Jinfang, a two-time volleyball world champion. Sun carried the torch out of the center, through another sea of athletes. She then ran up a set of stairs and passed the torch to Li Ning, gymnastics gold medal winner, who was suddenly lifted via transparent ropes to near the top of the enormous stadium, three massive tiers above. Li pretended to run across a field as he was conveyed around the top of the stadium, suspended by the ropes and highlighted with spotlights. Surely he was making his way to another torch bearer, the final one?

Finally, after a full rotation around the top-most rim of the 91,000 seat venue, Li touched his torch to what appeared to be part of the metallic striping on the wall. It wasn't. The striping caught fire, burning up to the base of the giant torch affixed to the top of the stadium. The flame wound its way around the torch as if it were climbing a staircase and, finally, just a few minutes short of four hours after the start of the Ceremonies, the flame blazed and the Games had officially begun.

By Amy Shipley  |  August 8, 2008; 11:24 AM ET
Categories:  Opening Ceremonies  
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Your real-time blog saved the day for the sorry office-bound across the US. THANKS!

Posted by: FanofFuwa | August 8, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

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