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At sunset on Friday, September 15, 2000, approximately 100,000 spectators and over 12,000 performers celebrated the opening of the 27th Olympiad in Sydney, Australia. Four billion viewers joined them worldwide. Ric Birch, the Director of Ceremonies and David Atkins, the artistic director, produced an epic pageant of Australian culture. From a lone rider on a chestnut stallion to the 120 stock horses and riders who started the show at a gallop, to the 11 minute corroboree, Awakening, where 900 indigenous citizens created the most haunting segment of the opening ceremony to the performers who breathed flames to recreate a bushfire, the audience saw a visual tapestry of this country. In Deep Sea Dreaming, 13 year-old Nikki Webster floated amongst giant luminous jellyfish, seahorses, and anemones above the arena, while the sea floor flickered with schools of human fish. Dreamtime spirits represented by Djakapurra Munyarryn and hundreds of clan members filled the stadium with images of the original Australians, which led into a magical wildflower carpet, with people dressed as honey myrtles, waterlilies, banksias, and Stuart Desert peas, with waratahs glowing a vibrant crimson. Hundreds of students sprouted petals and leaves, Captain Cook's First Fleet arrived, then Ned Kelly came out in force in Tin Symphony, which paid tribute to Australia's rural beginnings. Then, "Arrivals" introduced the many people from every continent who have chosen to call Australia home, culminating in a thunderous tribute to industry in the form of Adam Garcia's large troupe of tappers, who made the sparks fly. They were then joined by many of the 12,600 performers for a huge finale before welcoming to the arena a 2,000 piece marching band with participants from around the globe. Their stirring renditions of 'Waltzing Matilda', 'Chariots of Fire' and the LA Olympic fanfare and theme introduced the athletes who were to follow. A seemingly endless parade of 12,000 athletes and coaches, from 200 countries - the largest representation of any Olympic games. North and South Korea marched united for the first time in nearly a century, and a wave of emotion swept the stadium, but nothing compared to the roar that greeted the Australian team. Herb Elliott, 1,500m gold medallist at Rome, ran with the torch into Stadium Australia and handed it to Betty Cuthbert, whose wheelchair was pushed by Raelene Boyle. Dawn Fraser, Shirley Strickland-de la Hunty, Shane Gould and Debbie Flintoff-King then carried the flame in tribute to 100 years of women's participation in the Olympics. Finally the Torch was handed to Cathy Freeman, Australia's favourite who was given the honour of lighting the cauldron, in a magnificent display of fire and water against a backdrop of the seventy-metre waterfall. The opening ceremony can only be described as a defining moment in Australian history.