Thrilled Kieren lights the cauldron

14/06/00 - Spectators clogged the city centre as Kieren Perkins ran the final leg of the Olympic torch relay in Brisbane - Australia's 3rd largest city and Kieren's home - to light the cauldron to a wildly cheering crowd and begin the evening celebrations.

Kieren is passed the flame by Wally LewisIt was not so much a run for Kieren as a walk, touching the outstretched hands of many lining the streets.

"I didn't want it to be over too quickly. Even though I walked down the hill to spread it out a little bit, it still all happened very fast,"

"It's one of those situations I guess where you're just so overwhelmed and excited, it seemed like it was over in half a second. It was so fast, so exciting."

"Walking down the hill... it was an incredible feeling."

"It brings it all home and as well, makes you realise how incredibly special the event is going to be."

Kieren admits he panicked for about 30 seconds on stage when the cauldron would not light. When it did, he was thrilled.

Finally! Delighted Kieren punches the air as the cauldron is alight"It seems that there was a gas valve that wasn't turned on. Yes it looked a bit worrisome for a while there when that cauldron wouldn't head off, but look, it's great," he said.

"I got another five seconds up on stage, it was brilliant, it was just so overwhelming and exciting."

"I don't think I'll be lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremony, so this gave me the chance to imagine what it would be like."

Kieren ranked the experience even better than his Olympic gold medals in 1992 and 1996. "This tops the list so far. I can't explain to people just how special it is. I'm an Olympian. I've been to two Olympics now. This today makes that pale into insignificance, just being here, my home town, lighting the flame. On to Sydney I can't wait for it."

"It's probably the biggest buzz of my life thus far simply because we're in Australia, we've got an Australian crowd and this just brings it all home.

"For 16 days every four years the Olympic Games is by far and away the biggest thing in sport but the rest of the time it's cricket and football.Kieren after lighting the cauldron

"But at the end of the day more Australians would probably remember Olympic moments than the other sports combined."

Kieren was genuinely surprised by the huge crowds which had turned out to see him. "I knew there was a few friends and family coming out so I wouldn't be alone at least. But I can't believe this to be honest. It's incredible. It's so hard not to bring out the cliches at a moment like this. I'm just overwhelmed. This is what the torch relay's all about, bringing the community together and the community have done that."

"I actually got caught in traffic in the western suburbs today when it was on its route and really we were in the the middle of nowhere with a car dealership and basically nothing else. And the streets were lined, both sides with people everywhere. I was amazed."

"It's not hard to get motivated for the Games when you've got something like this going on around you," Kieren said.

"It's a feeling that I almost can't believe, how much support we have had and just the honour of not only carrying the torch, but also lighting the cauldron in my home city, with that many people there, it was something that I will never ever forget."

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