posted on Jun, 15 2004 @ 02:02 PM
MEXICO CITY (AP) - The Olympic flame that burned over Mexico City during the tumultuous 1968 Games returned for a more peaceful tour of the city
Tuesday, part of a 26-nation relay leading to the Athens Games.
World champion sprinter Ana Guevara was perhaps the best known of the 120 people carrying the torch on an 85-mile route through North America's
largest city and a metropolitan area of about 17 million people.
The flame arrived early Tuesday from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, aboard a plane bearing the legend, "Pass the flame, unite the world." From Mexico City,
it was headed overnight to Los Angeles, the first of four stops in the United States before its return to Greece for the Aug. 13 start of the Summer
Olympic organizers barred politicians and religious figures from the lists of runners so the 120-person relay was filled with athletes, media
personalities and a scattering of everyday citizens. Each leg was 440 to 500 yards.
Norma Enriqueta Basilio, who became the first woman to light an Olympic flame at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968, was taking the first lap with the
torch around Olympic Stadium, the site where Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos made a clenched-fist protest against racial injustice after
winning the gold and bronze medals in the 200 meters in 1968.
On the route was the Plaza of the Three Cultures, the site of a massacre of student protesters. Government officials, trying to halt demonstrations,
used troops to shoot trapped protesters 10 days before the start of the 1968 Olympics.
Another torchbearer was 93-year-old masters sprint champion Rosario Ibarra. Ibarra took up running at 80 after a customer commented on how quickly she
dashed around the city delivering newspapers.