Wednesday 27 April marks a significant milestone in the build-up to the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Only 100 days now remain until the Opening Ceremony, the countdown has well and truly begun.
With the lighting of the Olympic Flame in Ancient Olympia last week and the start of the Olympic Torch Relay, there is a growing sense that the Games are just around the corner. Another milestone in the countdown was completed today as the Flame was officially handed over to Rio 2016 - on 100 days to go - at a special ceremony held at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, the venue for the inaugural Olympic Games of the modern era back in 1896.
Before embarking on its three-month journey around Brazil, which starts in Brasilia on 3 May and will see it being carried by 12,000 people through every state capital and over 300 towns en route to the Maracana Stadium in Rio, the Olympic Flamewill make a short stopover in Switzerland. Following a ceremony at United Nations in Geneva on Friday, it will briefly go on display at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.
In Rio, meanwhile, preparations are continuing apace. With the venues now 98-percent complete and most of them having been put through their paces at test events, the visual look of the Games is quickly taking shape, adding to the belief that the city is now ready to play host to the world’s finest athletes in August.
Though many have yet to qualify, a sizeable number of competitors have already made sure of their places at Rio 2016, with the likes of Jamaican sprinting icon Usain Bolt and British boxer Nicola Adams – a gold medallist in the women’s 51kg at London 2012 –set to grace the big stage in 100 days’ time.
The qualification process is complete in a number of sports, however, namely artistic gymnastics, all the equestrian events, football, handball, hockey, rhythmic gymnastics, shooting, track cycling, trampoline gymnastics and water polo.
In particular, excitement is building among the home athletes. Speaking after Brazil’s women’s artistic team had sealed their place at Rio 2016 at the recent gymnastics test event, Brazilian gymnast Jade Barbosa said: “We all fought to the end and it was great. Now we’ve qualified we can train specifically in our events and with the Olympic Games in mind. This is a very talented team and we’re all focused. It’s all been worth it so far.”
As the final competition rosters start to take shape and the Olympic Flame makes its way around the host nation, Brazil’s dream of hosting the Games will become a reality. Check out www.olympic.org and www.rio2016.com for more ways to follow, as well as more information and the different ways you can take part in the Olympic Games Rio 2016.