Olympic Torch Relay lights up the Amazon

Picture by Rio2016/André Luiz Mello

The Olympic flame ventured further into the Amazon rainforest at the weekend as the Olympic Torch Relay reached its halfway point in one of Brazil’s most enchanting regions.

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay Day 46
Picture by Rio2016/André Luiz Mello

On Friday, 17 June, the flame arrived in Santarém in the state of Pará and began its journey on the banks of the Tapajós River, which is known as the Caribbean of Brazil.

The village of Alter do Chão provided an authentic welcome with indigenous schoolchildren and athletes greeting the flame along with women from the religious tradition of Festa do Sairé.

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay Day 46
Picture by Rio2016/André Luiz Mello

Iure Corrêa Dias, a triathlete from the Borari tribe, was the first to carry the flame and said: “I want to represent my people. I’m extremely happy because participating in an Olympic Games was always a dream and I’m fulfilling a little bit of that dream now.”

The relay continued by boat in the hope of spotting some of the famous pink river dolphins.

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay Day 46
Picture by Rio2016/André Luiz Mello

Torchbearer Aurimar Rodrigues, who was born in the Tapajós national forest, took the opportunity to highlight the importance of preserving the environment.

“The Olympic flame arrived at an important moment to alert people,” he said.

“If we don’t look after everything here, it could all be gone. Alter do Chão and the forest need more attention.”

After leaving Santarém, the relay headed to Boa Vista in Roraima, the 18th Brazilian state to receive the Olympic flame.

There, the convoy visited Campo Alegre, an indigenous community, where skydiver Luigi Cani jumped with an unlit torch in his hands, for it to be lit on landing.He passed the flame to Lourdes Sampaio, one of the oldest members of the village.

“We plant manioc, corn, beans, melon…the torch is one more element of our community,” he said.

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay Day 47
Picture by Rio2016/André Luiz Mello

Marcio da Silva, who was the first Ultraman from Brazil’s north and who launched the Triathlon in the Forest, said it was a moving experience to carry the Olympic flame.

“The moment that you hold the torch and run, it’s an indescribable sensation,” he said.

On Sunday, the flame travelled to Manaus in the state of Amazonas and was welcomed by a fanfare at the Arena da Amazonia stadium along with a display from the Brazilian Army parachutists.

Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay Day 48
Picture by Rio2016/André Luiz Mello

Among the Torchbearers was Dissica Calderário, a multi-athlete who plays football, does jiu-jitsu, aquatic marathon and cycles.

“There’s a lot of potential to discover in the city,” he said. “The manauara blood is the blood of a forest warrior who was born overcoming challenges, born with sport in his veins.”

Living proof of this was Gustavo dos Santos, 19, whose native archery skills were discovered thanks to a project to find potential Olympic talent in the rainforest.

His teammate Drean, who also carried the torch, said he was aiming for Tokyo 2020.

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.