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The flame was lit in Olympia and transported by air to Athens. On 8 May 1984, it began its journey on American soil. In New York, opposite the United Nations headquarters, Gina Hemphill and Bill Thorpe Jr., respectively the granddaughter and grandson of two famous athletes, Jesse Owens and Jim Thorpe, ran the first kilometre together.
The relay crossed the United States from east to west, through 33 States and the District of Columbia.
On 28 July, in Los Angeles, Gina Hemphill was at the Games Opening Ceremony. She carried the flame inside the Stadium before passing it to decathlete Rafer Johnson. He then climbed up a staircase to a tube that he ignited. The flame then followed the tube to the cauldron, lighting up the Olympic rings on the way.