Swimmers, singers and volleyball stars help the Olympic flame on its way
Still continuing its journey around the state of Minas Gerais in the south west of Brazil, the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay took in no less than nine cities between Friday and Sunday, with no shortage of local sporting celebrities taking on the mantle of Torchbearer.
The first stop on Friday was the historical city of Ouro Preto, famous for the work of Brazilian sculptor Aleijadinho. Then it was on to Itabirito, hometown of former head coach of the Brazilian national football team, Telê Santana, who led his country at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups. Santana passed away 10 years ago, but his son Renê helped honour his memory as one of the day’s Torchbearers.
“For me, it was a huge honour to represent, in our lovely town of Itabirito, someone who has done so much for sport, as my father, did”, said an emotional Renê.
Two times Pan-American Games judo gold medallist Luciano Corrêa also enjoyed his moment as a Torchbearer.
“It’s is an opportunity to show the people of Itabirito the importance of the Olympic Games and the Olympic spirit,” said Luciano.
During the final stop of the day in Inhotim, the local Torchbearers included swimmer Italo Manzine, who has qualified for the 50m freestyle in Rio and edged out Olympic champion Cesar Cielo in the process from the Brazil team.
On Saturday, the Torch Relay started in Contagem before heading to the Minas Gerais state capital of Belo Horizonte, where a number of the country’s most feted volleyball stars, including Olympic champions Nalbert, Tandara, Sheila and Anderson, were on hand to take part.
“It is a truly unique feeling. I was very keen to carry the Olympic flame. The Torch Relay is a beautiful thing and I’m pleased to be part of it,” said Sheila.
Singers Paula Fernandes and Rogerio Flausino, two of Minas Gerais’ most popular musicians also enjoyed their moment as Torchbearers. But the most emotional part of the Belo Horizonte leg was undoubtedly the moment that the flame passed to Paralympic sprinter Terezinha Guilhermina.
“It was the easiest 200 metres of my life”, joked the athlete, who has a tally of three gold, one silver and two bronze medals from the Paralympic Games.
On Sunday, the flame began its day in São João Del Rey and took a ride on the Maria Fumaça, a famous local train, as far as Tiradentes.
Later in the day the flame travelled to Barbacena, home of Brazilian volleyball star and 2008 Olympic champion Sassá, who took her turn as a Torchbearer. The Relay ended its journey on Sunday in Juiz de Fora, where former Flamengo and Brazil footballer Andrade and another Olympic volleyball champion Andre Nascimento were the stars of the show.
“I’m very proud to carry the Torch in Juiz de Fora. It was the city where everything started for me in volleyball and provided me with a platform for national and international success,” said André, who won gold at the Olympic Games Athens 2004.
On Monday, the flame is set to take in six more cities, crossing three states - Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and 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.