Twenty years ago, Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo fired a flaming arrow over the crowd to ignite the cauldron at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. (When Rebollo was 8 months old, he contracted polio and both legs were affected, the right one severely.)
Rebollo was one of 200 archers considered for the honor of shooting the arrow. To narrow down the field, there were sunrise practices, wind machines to simulate various weather conditions, and, of course, lots of flaming arrows. Rebollo was among four finalists who trained for 10 months, and get this—his name was chosen just 2 hours prior to the release of the flaming arrow!
Note: According to some online know-it-alls, Rebollo deliberately overshot the cauldron, though some sources claim it was done for the safety of the spectators. In addition, some say Rebollo’s arrow didn’t actually ignite the natural gas rising from the cauldron; this was done by a technician via remote control in all rehearsals and the opening ceremony itself. In this case, I say don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Let the Games begin! Until next time ...
P.S. Antonio Rebollo talks about his experience shooting the flaming arrow in this short video.