Back in 1991, Sheffield made a massive bid for its ‘City of Sport’ status, building numerous new sporting venues ready to host the World Student Games.
Hillsborough Leisure Centre, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre and Don Valley Stadium were all designed and built from scratch as part of the structure of the XVI Summer Universiade, with the latter giant athletics bowl hosting the opening ceremony, televised live around the world.
Most large scale sporting events feature the lighting of a flame during the opening ceremony and the World Student Games were no different.
Receiving the flame on behalf of the games was the amazing Helen Sharman, a Sheffielder and Britain’s first astronaut.
In an unfortunate turn of events Sharman tripped on the red carpet soon after setting off with the torch and the burning contents spilled out onto the floor, leaving the torch itself empty and extinguished.
55,000 spectators in the stadium and millions of television viewers around the world gasped as the burning embers spread across the carpet and track.
After a brief moment of panic, the ever-professional Mir space station astronaut continued to run around the track with the empty torch held aloft and fulfilled her role of heading up to the giant cauldron on the bank beside the stadium.
Sharman improvised lighting the giant flame with the empty torch, with the ceremonial cauldron promptly saving the day by automatically igniting.
Its probably a moment that Helen Sharman would want to forget, but when you’ve actually travelled to space perhaps there are other memories that stand out instead anyway.