Greek shooter Anna Korakaki will become the first female athlete to launch the Olympic torch relay in Ancient Olympia, Greece according to an announcement from the Hellenic Olympic Committee.
The committee said that the 2016 Rio gold medalist will fulfill the historic role as the first woman torchbearer following the flame-lighting ceremony on March 12.
Korakaki said the news is “a great honor” and that feelings would become “even more intense” being in the birthplace of the ancient Olympic Games.
“I am looking forward to experiencing that moment,” she said. “I’m sure it will remain etched in my mind and heart for the rest of my life.”
The ceremony begins with an actress posing as an ancient Greek priestess. Using a bowl-shaped mirror to focus the sunlight on her torch, she will pass it on to Korakaki — who begins the official procession.
The torch relay will travel through Greece for one week before the flame is passed to Tokyo 2020 organizers at a ceremony in Athens. 2016 Rio gold medalist (pole vault) Ekaterina Stefanidi will serve as the final torchbearer at the Panathenaic Stadium on March 19.
Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos hailed the selection of the two Olympic champions as “a historic moment.”
“For the first time in history, a female athlete will be the first torchbearer,” Capralos said. “I believe that Anna Korakaki has honored the Greek flag and our country, and she deserves it, not only for the two medals at the Rio Olympics, but also for her successes after 2016.
He added: “I am also happy for Ekaterina Stefanidi, another amazing Greek athlete who shines in the sports word. We are proud of our continued success. Congratulations to both of our athletes.”
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