Olympic Torch Relay passed through the Pantanal
Leaving the Amazon, the Olympic flame made its way to another of Brazil’s natural treasures, when it travelled through Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, home of the Pantanal wetlands.
On 24 June, a host of athletes carried the flame through the state capital of Cuiabá, bringing the Olympic spirit to Brazil’s central-west.
One of those was 15-year-old Adrielly Fernanda, who took up taekwondo aged 12, and who delivered an inspirational message about the power of sport to transform lives. “I started practising taekwondo to defend myself,” she said. “I suffered bullying at school and sport changed my life. It gave me self-esteem and the ability to confront my fears.“I’m really moved that the project recommended me to carry the Olympic torch.”
Among the other Torchbearers was Tayanne Coelho Mantovaneli, a police officer and gymnast, who won gold at the Pan American Games in 2007 and took part in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. “The Games have been a part of my life and my dreams for a long time,” she said. “I think that I have the Olympic spirit inside me and I will never lose it.”
On 25 June, the flame started its day in the Pantanal and ended it in the Chapada dos Guimarães national park.
Olympian and swimmer Felipe Lima, 31, who grew up in the region, was the first of the day’s Torchbearers. “I came to the Pantanal when I was very young,” he said. “I remember seeing animals roaming free and having this direct interaction with them. “Being here to carry the torch and bring the Olympic spirit that I have already experienced is different from anything else.”
Another of the day’s Torchbearers, Patricia da Silva, hailed from one of Pantanal’s many farming families.
“In the Pantanal, you’re practically an athlete,” said da Silva, who with her two sisters, works on the family’s cattle farm. “To lasso a calf, to escape away from an animal, to work all day with cattle, Pantanal locals have the strength of any athlete.
"There are few women working in the Pantanal. And we are passionate about this life," she added.
In neighbouring Mato Grosso do Sul, the flame was carried by mountain bike through the city of Sidrolândia before arriving in Rio Brilhante.
There, Neiva Guedes, a biologist who was responsible for creating a conservation project for the blue macaw, was among those chosen to carry the torch.
“It’s really good to have the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch, a symbol of the union of people, and spread this work that we developed through science and care,” she said.
On Monday, the flame will make its first visit to São Paulo as it edges ever closer to Rio de Janeiro.
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.