Our history is replete with dynamic women who exhibited great courage in an era when they were not allowed to step out of their homes. One such resolute woman is Enriqueta Basilio. She was the first woman to light the Olympic cauldron when she was granted the honour at the 1968 Olympic games in Mexico City, Mexico.

According to the New York Times, this is what she said when asked about the privilege of lighting of the torch. “Maybe it’s because here in Mexico the men and the women have the same rights,” she said through a translator.

Here are some interesting facts about her:

  • She was born on July 15, 1948, in Mexicali, the capital of the state of Baja California.
  • Coming from a large family of cotton farmers her father was also a runner. Moreover, many of her siblings were athletically talented.

She was 20-year-old when she scripted history by lighting the cauldron at the Summer Games in Mexico City in 1968.

  • Norma Enriqueta Basilio Sotelo is her full name.
  • Basilio went to the University of Baja California and told the Times in 1968 that she aspired to study political science. She was a national champion in the 80-meter hurdles, according to the Mexican Olympic Committee, before competing in the 1968 Games.
Enriqueta Basilio with the Olympic torch. Image credit: Quid

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  • She was 20-year-old when she scripted history by lighting the cauldron at the Summer Games in Mexico City in 1968.
  • “The first woman to light the Olympic flame, the farmer’s daughter presented an image that emblematically spoke to an increasingly feminist political tenor in Mexico, simultaneously symbolic of both the preservation of a rural heritage and a quest for modernity,” historian Amy Bass observed, according to the book In the Game: Race, Identity, and Sports in the Twentieth Century.
  • It was on October 12 she ran into the Olympic stadium in Mexico City holding the Olympic torch. The same torch had been carried over land and sea from Greece by a succession of more than 2,775 torchbearers.

She carried the Olympic torch once again in 2004 and was delighted to get the chance again. “I am a privileged woman,” she told the Associated Press in 2004. “I have realized so many of my dreams.” she had added.

  • It was a delightful moment when she jogged around the track, climbed 90 carpeted steps and dipped the torch into a massive metal caldron, igniting gas burners and officially starting the Games.
  • Interestingly, she competed in the 400-meter, the 80-meter hurdles, and the 400-meter relay but she was eliminated in each event. she then decided not to compete in the Olympics again.
  • She carried the Olympic torch once again in 2004 and was delighted to get the chance again. “I am a privileged woman,” she told the Associated Press in 2004. “I have realized so many of my dreams.” she had added.
  • She breathed her last on October 26, 2019 but the reason behind her death is not known. She was 71.

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