Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay reaches Siberian capital
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay reached Novosibirsk – the capital of Russia’s Siberian region – as the ninth week of the 123-day relay came to a close. The Olympic flame toured the Novosibirsk district for three days, making it one of the longest sections of the relay, with 260 Torchbearers taking part, covering a combined distance of 44km.
The relay had arrived in Novosibirsk by train from the Altai region, where the Olympic flame had toured the regional capital, Barnaul, with Torchbearers including 2012 European 110m hurdles champion Sergey Shubenkov.
"I was really nervous, as if I was going to have to run at the European championships, or even at the Olympic Games themselves,” said the 23-year-old, who also won World Championship bronze in 2013.
Other Torchbearers in Barnaul included swimmer Darya Tsvetkova, four-time Paralympic Games skiing champion Nikolay Ilyuchenko and Russian soccer player Alexey Smertin.
After reaching Novosibirsk, the first Torchbearer was two-time Olympic biathlon gold medallist Anna Bogaliy-Titovets, who passed the Torch to television presenter Tatyana Lazareva. Four-time Olympic fencing gold medallist Stanislav Pozdnyakov and Olympic volleyball champion Alexandr Butko also took turns carrying the Olympic flame, while other highlights included a visit to Novosibirsk Zoo – one of the largest in Russia – where the Torch Relay participants met a polar bear, leopard and hare, reminiscent of the official Sochi 2014 mascots.
At the age of 101, Alexandr Kaptorenko also became the oldest Torchbearer in the history of the Olympic Torch Relay. Alexandr is an active table tennis player and spends several hours each week practising sports and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle among local youths.
The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay is now set to visit the Omsk region as it continues its journey across Russia on its way to the Opening Ceremony of Sochi 2014 on 7 February 2014.
The route has been designed to ensure that around 90 per cent of Russia's population will be within an hour of the Relay at some stage, allowing approximately 130 million residents to participate in the event.
Find out more about the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay Presenting Partners at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/Partners
More information on the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay can be found at http://torchrelay.sochi2014.com/en/