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 . bg ski news
14 July 2004 - 15:33
Sofia stop as Olympic torch nears its final destination
Summer Olympic Games 2004, Greece
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SOFIA, Bulgaria - Georgi Ivanov, Bulgaria's first astronaut, opened the Olympic torch relay Wednesday in the capital of Greece's northern neighbor.

"It's quite symbolic that the torch will be carried first by a man who has explored the stars," said Ivan Slavkov, chairman of Bulgaria's Olympic Committee.

He said he hoped that 10 years hence the Olympic flame would be lit on the nearby Mount Vitosha. Sofia has bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Earlier Wednesday, sports officials and spectators greeted the flame as it landed at Sofia International Airport in a special jet dubbed "Zeus".

The relay began at noon at the Kambanite (Bells) Monument in the southern outskirts of the city. It passed through city streets to the landmark square in front of the Alexander Nevski Cathedral in the heart of Sofia.


/Andon Nikolov receives the Olympic Flame from Irina Russeva in Nezavisimost Square in front of Bulgarian Parlament/

In all, 120 people, including athletes and other prominent figures, carried the flame. The youngest was 14 years old, while the oldest participant, Anastas Antikadzhiev, 80, had to walk most of the 400 yard stretch.

Antikadzhiev was among fans welcoming the Olympic flame in Sofia in 1936.

Hundreds of bystanders along the 31-mile route cheered the torch carriers, waving homemade Olympic flags to honor this summer's Athens Games.

"I'm happy that my countrymen get a chance to be part of the great Olympic idea," said torch carrier Rumyana Neikova, a rowing silver medalist from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney who hopes to win gold at the Athens Games.

At a brief ceremony in front of the Vasil Levski Stadium, the 1952 boxing bronze medalist, 75-year-old Boris Georgiev — Bulgaria's first Olympic medal holder, wished success to Bulgaria's Olympic athletes before passing the torch to rowing Olympic champion Zdravka Yordanova.

Organizers released 256 doves to symbolize the 256 Olympic medals Bulgarian sportsmen have won since their first participation at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens.


/Olympic champion Hristo Markov carries the Olympic torch/

Olympic champion and seven-times world wrestling champion Valentin Yordanov was the last to carry the Olympic torch in Sofia before handing it to Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha. The country's former king lit a symbolic flame in front of the Alexander Nevski Cathedral.


/Valentin Yordanov and Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gotha lit a symbolic flame in front of the Alexander Nevski Cathedral/

On Thursday, the torch will travel to Nicosia, Cyprus, before reaching Athens for the Aug. 13-29 Olympics.

By the time the torch arrives in Athens, it will have visited 34 cities in 27 countries, and passed through Africa and South America for the first time.

Veselin Toshkov
Associated Press, 07.07.2004

Flame facts

The 2004 Olympic Torch flame was ignited by the sun's rays in a traditional ceremony in Greece on March 25.

The 2004 torch, designed by Greek designer Andreas Varotsos, resembles an olive leaf, which is long and narrow with a tapered tip. The olive tree is one of the most powerful symbols of Greece.

The torch is made of aluminum and olive wood, and weighs 1.5 pounds and is about 2 feet, 3 inches long.

About 11,400 torchbearers - 3,700 internationally and 7,700 in Greece - will have carried the torch throughout the 2004 Athens Olympic Torch Relay. Today it is in Cyprus.

The torch is transported by foot, bicycle, wheelchair, in-line skates, skateboard, horse, cable car, tram, yacht, roller skates, canal boat, scull, river ferry, aircraft, helicopter, subway, aerial tram, London taxi, double-decker bus, canoe, dragon boat, kayak and camel.

Only torchbearers are entitled to purchase the torch, upon completion of their portion of the relay. Each torch is priced at about 305 Euro.

Torches burn a mixture of butane and propylene and have been manufactured to burn for 20 minutes.

The flame is kept in a lantern that travels around the world and is used to light the day's torch relay. The lantern is closely guarded to ensure that it is not extinguished.

The Olympic flame was introduced at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, Netherlands, and lighted the Olympic Cauldron for the games' duration.

The flame is rekindled every two years, alternating for Winter Games and Summer Games, in a traditional ceremony in Greece.

On Aug. 13, the final torch will be presented at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Olympics.


 
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Next:
Italians Keen on Borovets Mega Project – 18 October 2004 - 14:52
Bulgaria Seduces with Low Prices – 15 December 2004 - 11:52
Bulgarian Resorts Ready for Winter Action – 15 December 2004 - 11:55
Ski Legends at Bansko Opening 2005 – 20 December 2004 - 01:52
Bojan Grebentcharski won bronze for Bulgaria in PGS at Winter Universiade 2005 - Insbruck/Seefeld – 16 January 2005 - 12:42

Previous:
National Alpine Ski Teams' 2005 selection finished – 25 June 2004 - 05:51
Coaches shcool seminar 2004 Bansko – 20 April 2004 - 20:04
Pirin Cup 2004 – 20 April 2004 - 08:20
Slaloms for the Balkan Open Cup Bansko 2004 – 08 April 2004 - 19:31
FIS slaloms at Pamporovo – 11 March 2004 - 13:17

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