Olympic Torch Relay led by Rio 2016 ceremonies director

With only two weeks until the Olympic flame reaches Rio, it was carried through São Paulo by the Opening Ceremony director Fernando Meirelles.

Picture by Rio 2016 / André Luiz Mello

Meirelles, best known for his Brazilian blockbuster City of God as well as The Constant Gardner and Blindness, took part in the relay as it passed through the town of Ribeirão Preto.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said, taking a break from preparations at the Maracanã. “I’ve been part of this now for some time and carrying the torch is just another step in the process.”

Meirelles is one of three creative directors and gave a flavour of what to expect on 5 August. “Everything is very big, the stage is very big. I have never done anything on this scale, and will never do so again in my life,” he added.

Earlier on Monday, 18 July, the flame visited the towns of Jaú, Araraquara and São Carlos.

The relay was greeted with demonstrations of karate and capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial arts dance, as well as a taste of what to expect at Tokyo 2020 from Nippo-Brazilian groups including Nisho Wadaiko drummers.

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay Day 77
Picture by Rio 2016 / André Luiz Mello

Maurren Maggi, the first Brazilian to win a medal in long jump, opened the relay in São Carlos and said: “The Olympic flame represents a milestone, our preparation from start to the end of the Olympic Games.

“For many people, the competition has already started and will only end when the cauldron is put out.”

On Tuesday, the flame started its day in the town of Sertãozinho, where schoolchildren performed in the colours of the Olympic rings.

Vitor Santos, a former roller hockey player who coached the Brazilian team at Barcelona 1992 and represented the country in six World Championships, was among the torchbearers. He said: “It’s a joy to be here and representing the sport that is so important to the city. This crowded square fills me with pride and emotion.”

Six Olympic taekwondo athletes were among those to carry the flame in Rio Claro on Wednesday before it reached Limeira, where there were flashmobs and freestyle performances in the Parque da Cidade park.

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay Day 79
Picture by Rio 2016 / André Luiz Mello

Several of the torchbearers were preparing to take part in Rio 2016 including handball player Alexandra Nascimento, who took a break from training to carry the torch.

“My city is beautiful and I miss it, but I left for a good cause, to represent them all around the world,” she said.

“We are very confident of a medal and want it to be the gold. We are doing the impossible and working hard for it. Carrying the torch made me more nervous than a final.”

The relay will complete its 80th day in Osasco on Thursday covering a total of 217km, carried by 199 torchbearers.

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.