On Thursday, in the city of Olympia in Greece, the Olympic torch will be lit so that it can begin its journey toward Rio. Over the course of about three months, more than 10,000 people will help the torch make its way to the Olympic Games. And none of the people in that chain are more visible than the one who comes last and is given the honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron on Aug. 5.

In 1968 that honor was particularly notable, as Enriqueta Basilio became the first woman ever to complete the Olympic torch relay when she lit the cauldron to begin the Mexico City games. “Some 40,000 balloons soared aloft, and 6,000 pigeons fluttered skyward,” TIME reported the following week. “The blazing torch arrived—borne for the first time by a woman, Mexico’s 20-year-old Norma Enriqueta Basilio Sotelo—to end a 10,000-mile odyssey that started at Olympia. After a final 21-gun salute, the games of the XIX Olympiad were officially under way.”

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Basilio was less successful on the track. She competed in the 400 m., the 100-m. relay and the 80-m hurdles, but only made it to the first heat in her events.

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Write to Lily Rothman at lily.rothman@time.com.

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