News Archive

News Archive

The Olympic Flame is back in Germany

The Olympic Flame that was lit on March 25, 2004 according to tradition in a

grove in antique Olympia and since June 4 has been on a 78,000 kilometre

journey around the world, the first time in the Olympic history, is coming to

Munich (June 29) and Berlin (June 30).

The Olympic Torch Relay was introduced to the Olympic Games for the

first time in Berlin in 1936. The idea and initiative go back to Dr.

Carl Diem, the General Secretary of the Organisation Committee.

Then, a total of 3,075 runners carried the flame that was lit in the holy grove

of Olympia over 3,075 kilometres to the Olympic Stadium, passing though 9


On February 6, 2004, Siegfried Eifrig, who has been a club member of SCC

Berlin athletics for 74 years (joining on January 1, 1930), turned 94. The

former director of the Berliner Sparkasse was not only active as a runner for

decades, he was also involved for years in the organisation of the


His greatest and most impressive experience was carrying the Olympic

torch for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. He was the last torch bearer on the

over 3000 km journey from Olympia to Berlin, receiving the flame on

the boulevard “Unter den Linden“ (in front of the Soviet Embassy),

and accompanied by a convoy of SCC runners, carried the torch to the altars in

the Lustgarten and in front of the Berlin Palace where he set them


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Each torchbearer was allowed to keep this famous torch, and it is still a

relic in his possession. Siegfried Eifrig’s personal bests as an athlete

were 11.0 sec for the 100m and 49.8 sec for the 400m. In 1935 he was the Berlin

and Brandenburg Champion in the 4 x 400m relay in 3:25.4 min, after he –

as was the rule then – scratched his starting holes in the track with his


In 1947, he successfully ran the 4 x 100m for SCC under the training of the

legendary Bertl Sumser. He participated in the Potsdam-Berlin relay 40 times,

sometimes exchanging the baton as the fourth runner on the famous

“Brücke der Einheit“ (Bridge of Unity) near Potsdam.

At the peak of his athletic abilities, for 8 years he was a soldier and then

prisoner in Egypt at the Great Bitter Lake. In the British POW Camp, he

organised football and track and field competitions for his fellow POWs,

participating himself and often winning.

After the war, he helped to resurrect SCC, organised national sporting events,

and was deputy head of the track and field department of SCC.

Five children, eight grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren keep

Siegfried Eifrig on the move. Up until a few weeks ago, he was still walking

and running twice a week, and he is still in good health.

On Wednesday, he will again be part of the Olympic Torch Relay in


32 years after the summer games in Munich in 1972, and 68 years

after Berlin 1936, the Olympic flame is returning to the German


Today, Tuesday, June 29, 2004, 125 runners will carry the torch in the Bavarian

metropolis of Munich and on Wednesday it will be carried through the German


The ARD will report live on both days as part of the `Sportschau live´

reporting from Wimbledon on the torch relay and supporting programme; the

ARD-Mittagsmagazin (mid-day programme) will also be reporting live. The

Bayerischer Rundfunk and RBB will be reporting in their regional


At 12:30 on Wednesday, the long distance runner Günther Zahn, who lit the

torch in Munich in 1972, will start the relay in Germany. After a 48 km

journey, it is to arrive at the Marienplatz square at about 7:30 p.m., where

there will be a big party.

132 Runners through Berlin

One day later, the torch will travel to Berlin, where the torch relay was

initiated for the 1936 games, then carried from Olympia to the Olympic


The former world champion gymnast, Eberhard Gienger, who is now a member of the

German Parliament (CDU), will parachute down and land in the stadium, where he

will receive the flame. 132 runners will then carry the flame through Berlin.

The first runner will be Kathrin Boron, the most successful rower in the world.

The final runner before the ending celebration at the Brandenburg Gate will be

Thomas Bach, who was the Olympic champion in fencing in 1976 and the German

Vice President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Each runner will carry the torch approximately 400 metres. In Munich, among

others the torch will be carried by the figure skaters Kati Winkler and Rene

Lohse, the downhill skiers Rosi Mittermaier and Christian Neureuther, the

president of the National Olympic Committee (NOK), Klaus Steinbach, as well as

his predecessor Walther Tröger, IOC member and NOK honorary


Among others in Berlin, Henry Maske(boxing), Claudia Pechstein (speed

skating), Katarina Witt (figure skating), Christian Schenk (decathlon) and

Paralympics champion Marianne Buggenhagen (track and field).

The German Minister of State Otto Schily, the Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit

and Manfred von Richthofen, president of the German Sporting Association (DSB),

will also be carrying the torch.

Claudia Pechstein will be receiving the flame at about 1:30 p.m. in front of

the German Chancellery; Henry Maske will be waiting at Alexanderplatz (at about

2:30 p.m.) and Katarina Witt will be at Potsdamer Platz (at about 6:45


The running scene will be represented by Horst Milde and Bernd


There are also some “real“ runners in the torch relay. Horst Milde

from the Berlin running and track and field scene (real,- BERLIN MARATHON) will

carry the torch at about 1:40 p.m. from Alt-Moabit to Invalidenstraße,

and Bernd Hübner (real,- BERLIN MARATHON) will go down the Badenschen

Straße from Babelsberger Straße to Landhaustraße at about

5:30 p.m.. Short distance runners will be represented as well: Claudia Marx

(400m) and Mike Fenner (110 m hurdles).

Each torchbearer will be accompanied by one other runner and six

motorcycles. A police escort will clear the roads in the front. The organisers

expect the Olympic flame to travel about 7.5 km per hour through the city,

which means that each runner should go 100m in about 45 seconds.

The Olympic flame has been travelling for three months on its journey around

the world. It was lit on March 23 in the grove in antique Olympia, and on

August 13 it will arrive in the Olympic stadium in Athens in time for the

opening of the XXVIII Summer Olympic Games. It will have then stopped in all 33

cities in which the Olympic Summer Games have taken place.