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Two decades on: Remembering the Sydney Olympics

Today marks 20 years since the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympics.

Australians watching on would remember the cauldron getting stuck for almost four minutes on its way to the top of the stadium.

Listener Brian told Ben his company was tasked with designing the Olympic Flame.

He’s shared with the 2GB audience the story behind the heart-stopping moment.

“No one in the government seems to know, no one’s ever asked us what happened, but that is the fact.”

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Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates told Deborah Knight it was a special Olympics.

“I just didn’t anticipate the way that Sydneysiders … the way that Australia would embrace the games.”

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Vera Rothwell was a pioneer volunteer for the Sydney Olympics and recalled to Deborah Knight
her memories of the opening ceremony.

“Probably the highlight was I marched into the stadium with my team on the opening night, rubbing shoulders with all those wonderful athletes,” she said.

“When we marched in, it was surreal, I couldn’t believe I was really there.”

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Nikki Webster caught up with Ben Fordham, reminiscing about the performance that shot her to stardom at the age of 13.

She said her appearance was shrouded in secrecy, one she even kept from her parents.

“I feel like it was only yesterday.”

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Former NSW premier Bob Carr told Ben the Games “unified” Australians.

“We had state governments collapse, bankruptcy and debt, state banks failed, the dollar was about 50 cents.

“We were a bit nervous of the country’s capacity to deliver the biggest peacetime event the world sees and I think that’s why the success was so very important for us.

“It showed the world we could do it.”

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Australian Basketball champion Andrew Gaze told Ben he made a mistake during the opening ceremony.

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Image: David Madison/Getty Images