Olympic Torch Relay heads for Brazil’s north-east

Picture by Rio 2016

Marking its 25th day in Brazil on Friday, 27 May, the Olympic flame reached the famous dry bushland of the country’s north-east known as the sertão, which is the birthplace of some of Brazil’s most iconic musical cultures, including the sertaneja and forró genres.

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The region’s close relationship with the land was a prominent theme of the Olympic Torch Relay in the 2km leg that began in Lagoa Grande, in the state of Pernambuco. One of the 10 Torchbearers during this stretch was local cowboy João Araújo.

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“28 May is my birthday, so carrying the Olympic flame one day before is the best present I’ve ever had in my life,” he said.

“We want to use the Relay to show the world our traditions of animal husbandry and tending the land.”

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The flame’s final stop in Pernambuco was Cabrobó, where local hero Jocemar Rodrigues carried the torch. Founder of a local sports club, Jocemar was also responsible for Micaboa, a popular regional carnival. “I’m very proud,” he said. “I’ve cried a lot. I’ve never thought that I would have an experience like that in my life. It’s a unique moment. It’s just a shame that it lasts for only 200 metres.”

After passing through Pernambuco, the flame arrived in Sergipe, the smallest state in Brazil, on 28 May.

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There, the Relay unfolded against a stunning backdrop as it sailed down the São Francisco river, one of the most important waterways in the country, which traverses five states and more than 520 cities.

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The flame travelled through the towns of Canindé de São Francisco, Poço Redondo, Nossa Senhora da Glória and Nossa Senhora das Dores before reaching the state capital of Aracaju.

After a stop in Propriá on Sunday morning, the flame then left for Alagoas state where almost 200 Torchbearers did a stint carrying the torch through six cities.

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Among them was six-times jiu-jitsu world champion Bianca Andrade, who carried the torch through the state capital, Maceió.

“I won lots of titles, but carrying the torch is a unique moment for me,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by her fellow Torchbearer, 14-year-old school pupil, Eliel de Melo. “It’s a complete joy to be part of an event like this, carrying the Olympic flame in my hometown. I can’t explain what I felt when I was chosen to be one of the Torchbearers in Maceio”, he said.

Bidding farewell to Alagoas, the flame then returned to the state of Pernambuco, where it was carried through the site of what was once Brazil’s biggest slave settlement, União dos Palmares, where slave leader Zumbi dos Palmares led a famous uprising against the slavemasters in the 17th century.

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.