Twenty years ago on 20 June 2000, the Sydney Olympic Torch Relay lit up the streets of the Bundaberg Region.
Current Councillor Vince Habermann was one of Australia’s 11,000 Sydney Olympic Torchbearers that carried the endless flame for 27,000km around the nation in 2000.
Cr Habermann recalled the cold winter’s morning, as thousands of locals lined the streets to watch the historical moment of the Sydney Olympic Torch Relay travelling through the Bundaberg Region unfold.
“It doesn’t seem that long ago, but time goes by fast,” Cr Habermann said.
“It was an amazing and awesome experience to see the community out in force – they were just as excited as I was.”
He joined other Australians including retired Australian cricket captain Allan Border, rugby league legend Wally Lewis and Bundaberg’s own Olympian Michele Pearson, in carrying the Sydney Olympic Torch across Queensland.
Cr Habermann was 39 at the time, he said he was honoured with carrying the Sydney Olympic Torch across Tallon Bridge, and it was a highlight of his sporting life.
“Seeing the flame light up the morning sky as I crossed over Tallon Bridge is a moment I will never forget,” he said.
“The torch flame was passed from one bearer to another, I believed there were about 40 bearers in the Bundaberg Region.
“I received the flame from Helen Stitt, who was a Paralympian swim coach, and I passed it to Phil McNamara who has worked tirelessly with athletics in the Bundaberg Region.
“It was also special for me as my mother Jackie Habermann and grandmother Alma Halpin were there to watch as I passed over Tallon Bridge to Bundaberg North State School.
“My grandmother grew up in Bundaberg North, so it was quite exciting for her.”
Cr Habermann said after the Sydney Olympic Torch Relay the excitement stayed with him for years, as he took his Olympic Torch to school visits, and students had their photos taken holding a piece of local sporting history.
Cr Habermann said the thrill of the 2000 Sydney Olympics didn’t end there for him, as he then went on to volunteer for the duration of the games at the Sydney International Equestrian Centre.
“I was in the media section, where I would write Olympic news and items like flash quotes from Olympians,” Cr Habermann said.
“I watched the moment when Darian Powers ridden by Andrew Hoy won the gold medal for the Australian team.
“To be there, to watch them at the moment was absolute euphoria.”