Olympic Torch Relay lights up Iguaçu Falls

Picture by Rio 2016-André Mourão

The Olympic spirit touched the border of three countries on 1 July as the flame arrived at its most stunning backdrop yet.

Foz do Iguaçu sits on Brazil’s border with Paraguay and Argentina and is home to one of Brazil’s most popular tourist attractions, the Iguaçu Falls, where the Devil’s Throat waterfall drawing tens of thousands of visitors every year.

Among the Torchbearers was Celsita Stete, a Paraguayan national who has worked at the nearby Itaipu dam for 25 years. She said: “We work at the biggest hydroelectric dam in the world in energy production and we do a daily integration exercise.

“It’s like the Olympic Games, it’s not just about winning a competition but doing an integration exercise between countries, right? It’s very moving.”

The relay continued to pass through the state of Paraná on 2 July.

Diego Reis
Picture by Rio 2016-André Mourão

In the city of Realeza, Diego Reis carried the torch on his roller-skates as crowds cheered him on from the Praça da Matriz square.

“I didn’t know the affection of the people could be so strong,” he said.

“So many people came out of their homes to see the Olympic flame and, as a Torchbearer, I was really nervous!”

On Sunday, 3 July, the relay ventured into the final two of Brazil’s 26 states when it visited the southernmost states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.

The flame was welcomed with gaucho, or cowboy, performances and archery demonstrations.

Marlisa Wahlbrink, 43, the goalkeeper for Brazil’s women’s football team at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, carried the torch in Chapecó in Santa Catarina.

Now a coach, she said: “I think that our supporters will make the difference for Brazilian athletes. They will feel the buzz in the stands and it will give them an extra boost in the competitions.”

Chana Franciela Masson
Picture by Rio 2016-André Mourão

Four times Olympic handball player Chana Franciela Masson took part in the relay in Concórdia and said: “Being inviting to carry the Olympic torch was an honour for me. The feeling is like playing a final.”

After passing through Erechim and Passo Fundo in Rio Grande do Sul, the flame will continue through the last state on Monday before making its way back towards Rio.

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.