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Olympic Flame lighting ceremony on 24 March in Ancient Olympia March 21, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Olympic Games.
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The flame will be lit on March 24 beside the 2,600-year-old Temple of Hera by an actress dressed as an ancient Greek priestess. It will then start its 137,000-kilometre journey to Beijing. The first torchbearer in the relay will be Alexandros Nikolaidis, who won a silver medal in taekwondo at the 2004 Athens Games. He will hand the flame to Luo Xuejuan, who won China’s only swimming gold medal in Athens. IOC President Jacques Rogge will attend the lighting ceremony with Greek President Karolos Papoulias and Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) confirmed that the Olympic Flame for Beijing 2008 Olympic Games will be lit in Ancient Olympia at 12 o’clock at noon on March 24 and will be handed over to the Beijing Organizing Committee at 3 p.m. on March 30 at the Panathenian Stadium in Athens.

21-03-08_olympic_torch_relay.jpg  Olympic taekwondo silver medalist Alexandros Nikolaidis (left) and Olympic triple jump silver medalist Pigi Devetzi answer questions from journalists during a press conference in Athens, March 13, 2008. The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) announced Thursday that Nikolaidis will be the first torchbearer for Beijing Olympic Games and Devetzi will be the last one, who will light the Olympic Flame at the altar of the Panathenian Stadium on March 30, shortly before handing over to Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee.

The Torch Relay for the Beijing Olympic Games will last seven days on Greek territory after the Lighting of the Flame in Ancient Olympia on March 24. The Olympic Flame will cover in Greece 1,528 kilometers by the hands of 605 bearers and 14 vehicles will follow them. The Torch Relay will pass through 16 Prefectures, 43 Municipalities, 12 Municipal Districts, 4 Communities and there will be organized 29 ceremonies in specific cities along the route of the Torch Relay and in 5 archaeological sites.

According to HOC, on March 24, the ceremony will start at 12 o’clock at noon. Then the Olympic Anthem, the National Anthem of China, the National Anthem of Greece will be played and the Olympic Flag, the Chinese Flag and the Greek Flag will be hoisted.

The speeches will be given by the Mayor of Ancient Olympia Georgios Aidonis, President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Minos Kyriakou, as well as the President of the Organizing Committee for Beijing 2008 Liu Qi.

The Ritual of the Lighting Ceremony at the Temple of Hera will start at 12:25 p.m and then the High Priestess and Priestess enter the Ancient Stadium with Olympic Flame. The High Priestess will hand over the Flame to the first Torchbearer who will depart via Pierre de Coubertin’s Grove and starts the Olympic Torch Relay in Greece. Alexander will receive in Ancient Olympia the sacred flame from the High Priestess and will give the signal for its long voyage to Beijing.

Kyriakou said that Alexander was chosen as the first torchbearer, not only because he will participate for the third time in Olympic Games in Beijing and apart his athletics abilities, he is example to follow, for his morality, his modesty and his integrity. Alexander said that he had visited Beijing last year and he likes Beijing very much. He wishes to achieve better result in Beijing Olympic Games in August.

Alexander began taekwondo when he was a little child at the age of 3. His first big success was in 1996 when he won the gold medal in World Junior Championship in Barcelona. At Sidney’s 2000 Olympic Games, he made his first appearance in Olympics but he was unlucky as he suffered serious injury during the quarterfinal match and had to quit. The leading moment in his career was the silver medal in Athens 2004 Olympic Games, in the over 80 kilograms category.

Kyriakou also announced that the Olympic silver medalist Pigi Devetzi will be the last torchbearer, who will light the Olympic Flame at the altar of the Panathenian Stadium on March 30, shortly before handing over to Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee. According to the schedule, the Olympic Flame will be handed over to Beijing 2008 Olympic Organizing Committee at 3 p.m. at Panathenian Stadium in Athens.

Since 2005, Greek sports editors have been voting for Devetzi as the top female Greek athlete. Devetzi went in for sports, first for artistic gymnastics, then for volleyball, and continued with the long jump before ending up a triple jumper. The year of 2004 was a turning point in her career. She stood up on the third step of the podium at the World Indoor Athletics Championship in Budapest with a 14.73 leap. At the Athens 2004 Games, she got a silver medal with a 15.25 meters jump, the third best performance ever. She came third at the Osaka World Championship last year with a 15.05 meters jump.

Devetzi said she is very happy to be chosen as the last torchbearer for the Beijing Olympic Games Torch Relay in Greece. She said that she hasn’t been to China but she is expecting to achieve a good result in Beijing Olympic Games in August.

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