Below is a list of cauldron lighters who have lit the Olympic flame during the Opening Ceremony of the Games of the Olympiad.

1896-1932 -- No flame lighters

1936 Berlin -- Fritz Schilgen, Track and Field

1948 London -- John Mark, Track and Field

1952 Helsinki -- Hannes Kolehmainen, Track and Field

1956 Stockholm -- Hans Wikne, Equestrian

1956 Melbourne -- Ron Clarke, Track and Field

1960 Rome -- Giancarlo Peris, Track and Field

1964 Tokyo -- Yoshinori Sakai

1968 Mexico City -- Enriqueta Basilio, Track and Field (first woman)

1972 Munich -- Guenter Zahn, Track and Field

1976 Montreal -- Sandra Henderson, Stephane Prefontaine

1980 Moscow -- Sergei Belov, Basketball

1984 Los Angeles -- Rafer Johnson, Track and Field

1988 Seoul -- Chong Son-Man, Kim Won-Tak, Son Mi-Jong

1992 Barcelona -- Antonio Rebello, Archery (Paralympics)

1996 Atlanta -- Muhammad Ali, Boxing

2000 Sydney -- Cathy Freeman, Track and Field

2004 Athens -- Nikalaos Kaklamanakis, Sailing

2008 Beijing -- Li Ning, Gymnastics

2012 London -- Callum Airlie, Jordan Duckitt, Desiree Henry, Katie Kirk, Cameron MacRitchie, Aidan Reynolds, Adelle Tracey

2016 Rio -- Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, Track and Field

Below are a few notable moments in Olympic cauldron lighting history: 

1952: Paavo Nurmi, who won a record nine gold medals in track during the 1920s, carried the Olympic torch into the stadium at the Opening Ceremony. After lighting the Olympic flame at the side of the track, Nurmi passed the torch to Hannes Kolehmainen, who won the inaugural 5000m and 10,000m gold medals at the 1912 Games and returned to win the marathon in 1920. At the age of 62, Kolehmainen ran to the top of the stadium and lit a second flame.

1956: Hans Wikne (SWE) was the Olympic flame lighter at the equestrian competition, held earlier in the year in Stockholm because of Australian livestock quarantine regulations. Australia's Ron Clarke, who lit the flame at the Melbourne Opening Ceremony, went on to win a bronze medal in the 10,000m at the 1964 Games in Tokyo, losing to American Billy Mills in a shock upset.

1964: Yoshinori Sakai was not an Olympic athlete. An aspiring university sprinter, Sakai was born in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, the day the atomic bomb was dropped there.

1968: Enriqueta Basilio, a hurdler, was the first woman to light the torch.

1976: Sandra Henderson and Stephane Prefontaine, two teenagers who were not athletes, represented the English and French heritages of the Canadian people. Contrary to widespread rumor, the two were not later married.

1980: Sergei Belov is one of three men to win four basketball medals. He won three bronze medals, in 1968, 1976, and 1980, and a gold in 1972. For much of the 1990s he coached the Russian national team.

1984: Rafer Johnson won the 1956 decathlon silver and 1960 decathlon gold, setting an Olympic record in Rome.


1988: Chong Son-Man, Kim Won-Tak, and Son Mi-Jong (a high school student, a graduate student and an elementary school teacher) lit the flame. The woman and two men represented South Korea’s commitment to education. Kim, the graduate student, finished 18th in the 1988 marathon. 

1992: Antonio Rebollo, a three-time Paralympic medalist in archery, lit the flame from 195 feet away with the aid of a bow and arrow — or so it appeared. Fearing Rebollo would miss his mark, organizers instructed the archer to fire his arrow beyond the walls of the stadium. As the arrow soared toward the cauldron, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control. The illusion worked, mesmerizing spectators and TV viewers, and the true story wasn't revealed for another 20 years (2012). A native of Barcelona, Rebollo contracted polio in both legs when he was eight months old.

1996: In 1960, Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) won the light heavyweight gold medal. He would later become heavyweight champion of the world. For the 1996 Games, he was chosen to light the cauldron. Ali, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1984, created one of the most powerful and touching moments of the Games in doing so. 

2000: At the 1996 Atlanta Games, Cathy Freeman had become the first known Aboriginal athlete to win an Olympic track and field medal when she finished second in the 400m. In 2000, she became the transcendent figure of the Sydney Games, lighting the torch at the Opening Ceremony and following that with an emphatic victory in the 400m, the first individual Olympic gold medal won by an Aboriginal athlete.

2004: Nikolaos Kaklamanakis ("Nikos"), the 1996 Olympic gold medalist in men’s Mistral (windsurfing), competed in his fourth Olympics in Athens and won the silver medal. Kaklamanakis, one of the most popular athletes in Greece, had taken part in previous Olympic ceremonies: He was the last Olympic torch bearer in Greece in 1996 and the Greek flag bearer at the Closing Ceremony in Atlanta.

2008: Li Ning, the famous Chinese gymnast who collected six medals (three gold) at the 1984 Games, lit the flame in spectacular fashion. Li, who founded the popular athletic apparel company Li-Ning, was supported by cable wires as he took a lap around the stadium in midair before lighting a giant fuse that led to the cauldron.

2012: The London flame-lighting ceremony featured the second-largest contingent of Olympic flame lighters (the 2002 Salt Lake Opening Ceremony featured the 1980 U.S. Olympic men's hockey team). Seven teenaged athletes, as young as 16 and no older than 19, were nominated by seven of Britain's greatest Olympians to symbolize the literal passing of the torch from one generation to the next. The participants lit several of the 204 copper petals that formed the cauldron and represented the number of nations competing in London.

2016: In 2004, Brazilian runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima was on path to win gold in the marathon when Irish priest Cornelius Horan jumped onto the course and pushed him off the track. He earned the bronze medal and was awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal from the IOC during the Closing Ceremony for his composure in handling the situation. In Rio, he was granted a different kind of golden Olympic moment when lighting the cauldron inside Maracana Stadium.