About the Team
In a symbolic gesture to the ideals of ancient Greece, the
52 runners were selected to represent the original Greek concept
of staging this premier sports event for the "Whole Man".
The 52 men and women represent the best of America. They are
well-rounded people who, in addition to being good athletes and
strong runners, are involved with challenging professions and
are interested in music, art, drama, and scholarship.
The 52 runners represent all 50 states plus the district of
Columbia and the host village of lake Placid. They were selected
from over 8,000 persons who responded to the LPOOC request for
Included among the finalists are a doctor, a minister, a lawyer,
two military officers, a West Point cadet, four high school students,
three law students, a college instructor, a high school teacher,
seven college students, a lobsterman (woman), four housewives,
a plumber, a banker, several corporate executives, a TV reporter,
a theater technician, and an automobile factory worker, all representing
America's "walks of life".
One member of the team is a former Olympic bobsledder, and
several of the torchbearers compete in marathons, but most run
"just for the fun of it".
The torchbearers range in age from 16 to 56, and will each
be required to carry the two-foot high, one and one-half pound
Olympic torch between 18 and 30 miles during the 1,000 mile journey
in the United States.
In the past, hundreds and even thousands of runners have passed
the Flame during its relay from Olympia. In many cases, the Flame
has been run throughout the entire host country. some host nations
have used two torch routs (Grenoble, Innsbruck) or, even three,
as in Sapporo. The Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee has
chosen to recruit runners from each state to accomplish broad
national participation in yet another way.
A very rigorous selection criteria for torchbearers was developed,
reflecting the rich heritage of the Ancient and Modern Olympic
Games. The ideal torchbearer is one who best exemplifies the
ancient Greek ideal of the "Whole Man" - an athlete,
an artist, a scholar, a thinker; a person who regards all these
facets of his life as equally important to his overall well being.
A selection committee reviewed all applications and selected
approximately 260 finalists, five from each of the 52 jurisdictions.
The selection committee also considered in what ways each candidate
would best represent the people of his or her state or city.
All 260 finalists were interviewed in March 1979, and the selection
committee evaluated the candidates on the basis of personal appearance,
articulation of the Olympic ideals, and general attitude (attributes
not measurable by written forms). In addition, as a last test,
all finalists were asked to run three miles (5 km) at a 7.5 minute
pace, to prove that they were capable of the physical requirements
of the relay itself.
The torch bearers will be symbols of the Olympic tradition
and spirit, and because their number is small, they will become
the focus of public attention in their own states. Thus, their
personal attributes will demonstrate that the amateur spirit
of participation in sports is alive and thriving in the United
States. They will also serve, in their home states, as good-will
ambassadors for the Olympic movement. In turn, when they arrive
at the Olympic site, they will serve to represent the support
of all the people of the United States for the Olympic Winter
Games being held in Lake Placid.