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RIO 2016 OLYMPIC TORCH RELAY – DAY 15 ©Rio2016/Andre Mourao
20 May 2016
Olympic Torch Relay , RIO 2016 , IOC News

Olympic flame edges closer to Rio

The Olympic flame has been in Brazil for just a fortnight but has already danced, paddled and sailed around the country. As the Olympic Torch Relay edges ever closer to Rio de Janeiro it has already created many memorable moments as it makes its way across Brazil’s 26 states and federal district.

From the young to the elderly, the Torchbearers have been writing their own history with creative ways of carrying the Torch.

Diones Henrique, a ballet dancer and teacher, pirouetted the flame through the streets of Muriaé during its last stop in the state of Minas Gerais earlier this week.

Before Muriaé, the flame also passed through the towns of Bicas and Leopoldina. Luciana Batitucci, a post office worker who started the relay in Bicas, described her big moment as “the most unforgettable 200m of my life.”

The flame even made a brief appearance in the state of Rio de Janeiro as it made its way to the seaside state of Espirito Santo.

Making its first visit to Brazil’s famous beaches, it was carried by Derek Rabelo, a blind surfer, from the city of Guarapari.

Geovani, silver medal-winning footballer and spine cancer survivor, then took the Flame through Vila Velha, remembering his own Olympic memories of Seoul 1988.

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“I won lots of medals, but the Olympic silver is one of the most special,” he said.

Torchbearers used stand-up-paddle boards, canoes and boats to keep the relay afloat as the flame travelled along the coast.

During its journey through five cities, it was carried through Aracruz by Maridéia Bitti, 85, a local social work hero.

Maria Cecília Guimarães, who lives in Aracruz, wept at the sight and said: “I don’t usually follow the Olympic Games, but seeing the Torch and the Olympic flame in my hometown is a pleasure. And that will make me support all Brazilian athletes in their competitions.”

And after a memorable passage through Espirito Santo, the flame reached the historical state of Bahia, where Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral landed in 1500 to discovered Brazil.

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It is the Olympic Torch Relay's first stop in the colourful north-east of the country and will pass through the towns of Teixeira de Freitas, Itamaraju, Santa Cruz de Cabrália and Porto Seguro on its way to the state capital - and first capital of Brazil - Salvador, on May 23.

Schoolchildren from Orchestrating the Future orchestra will welcome the flame in Teixeira de Freitas before it travels by some of the region’s most famous and historic landmarks including the site of the first Mass in Santa Cruz de Cabrália.

And among the Torchbearers will be Raoni Vieira Braz, of the Pataxó people, who will transport the flame with 50 other members of the indigenous population.

The Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay has three Presenting Partners: Worldwide TOP Partner Coca-Cola, which continues its longstanding support for Olympic torch relays, and local Partners Bradesco and Nissan. For further information, please visit the Rio 2016 website.
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