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Features Friday, 8 February, 2002, 11:09 GMT
Flame completes epic journey
Wheelchair-bound Paralympian Chris Waddell is all smiles as he brings the Olympic flame to Salt Lake City
Paralympian Chris Waddell had the final honour
BBC Sport Online's Alex Gubbay watches the Olympic flame arrive in Salt Lake City.

"It may be chilly tonight but the Olympic flame has never burned brighter than here in Salt Lake City."

That was Mayor Rocky Anderson's rallying call to the thousands of Utahns on the streets of Salt Lake City as the torch finally came to town on Thursday night.

After a journey of some 65 days and 13,500 miles across 46 American states, it arrived to a chorus of cheers and all manner of flame-inspired and suitably cheesy celebrations.

Earlier, it had toured some of the venues and travelled through the city in a police cavalcade - I was convinced American skier Picabo Street peeped her horn at me as the long line of flashing lights cruised up Main Street.

We wanted our little girl to experience this and she has loved it

Rebecca and Ty Oyer, with one-year-old daughter Zola
Meanwhile, gathered patiently in the cold at the City and County Building, locals seemed in good heart, ready to welcome the Olympic flame, and the world to their home.

I joined them, waiting to be whipped into a frenzy as the magic moment neared.

That never quite happened, though the Utah Olympic Spirit band did belt out a couple of rousing numbers, including 'Champions', the music made famous by the BBC's Sports Personality programme and Grand National coverage.

I was right here when it was announced we had got the Games, so it's great to be here now. And we're ready to welcome the rest of the world

Dan Spencer
Indeed, it made me half expect the final leg of the torch's journey to be completed on horseback.

In the event, it was Paralympian Chris Waddell, flanked by fellow US stars including skater Kristina Yamaguchi, who brought the flame up the ramp and onto the stage where he lit the Olympic cauldron.

Given a licence to thrill the masses, Gladys Knight then certainly looked the part as she came on to close the evening's festivities.

And even if it was the sound system doing most of her work, no-one in the crowd noticed.

They had got their flame and after a long, long wait, they've finally got their Games.

BBC Sport Online's Alex Gubbay

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