Inside the Collection

Olympic Games Torch, let the games begin

Detail from 2000 Olympic torch, used by Cathy Freeman
Detail from 2001/84/267 Olympic torch, used by Cathy Freeman, opening ceremony, Sydney 2000. Collection: Powerhouse Museum


As the the 2012 Olympic Games opens in London who can forget the excitement of the Olympic Games in Sydney, the touring of the Olympic torch around the country and moment of lighting at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000?

This is the Olympic torch used by Cathy Freeman on 15 September 2000 to ignite the Olympic cauldron during the Opening Ceremony.

The torch design reflects the Sydney landscape, its tiered rim emulates the sail-like roofline of the Sydney Opera House, its curving body reflects the shape of a boomerang, and its blue aluminium surface symbolises the waters of Sydney Harbour. Blue Sky Design was the winning company who created the Olympic and Paralympics torch and stand designs.

The torch is made from shaped steel with pivoting cover sleeve for access to the fuel cylinder. It has an internal burner and valve mechanism. The torch tapers towards the base. The main body of the torch is polished steel. The cover is made up of two shells; the first shell is anodised blue steel and contains a space for the fuel cylinder. The second shell has a white powder coating with a silver Sydney 2000 logo on either side. Inside the torch is an empty fuel cylinder.

2000 Olympic torch
2001/84/267-1 Olympic Torch. Part of the Sydney 2000 Games Collection. Gift of the New South Wales Government, 2001. Collection:Powerhouse Museum


The London 2012 Olympic torch was designed by Edward Barba and Jay Osgerby and has won the British Design Museum’s ‘Design of the year’ and product award.

The torch is gold in colour and has 8,000 holes in the aluminium alloy skin to reflect the 8,000 runners carrying it, the holes reduce the heat produced, protecting the holder. The triangular shape was inspired by a variety of “threes” that the designers wanted to embody: The Olympic motto of ‘faster, higher, stronger’; the years London’s hosted the Games, 1908, 1948 and 2012; and the founding principles for the London Games, of sport, education and culture.

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