The Olympic Torch Relay has reached its one-month mark, just in time for Brazil’s traditional June parties in honour of São João, or St John. Still passing through the north-east of the country, the Olympic flame travelled to Caruaru, the biggest rural city in the state of Pernambuco, on May 30.
The last of the 31 torchbearers was 81-year-old poet and musician Onildo Almeida, who was also responsible for opening the city’s São João celebration, which is full of typical countryside dances, games and delicacies. “It was a huge surprise,” he said. “To carry this symbol that means so much in sports and Olympic history is an honor for me.”
The emotional journey continued on May 31 when the torch reached Gravatá and the hands of Julia Melo, 20, who has Leigh Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder. Brave Julia kept smiling throughout her 200m with the torch. Finally, the flame was carried through the state capital of Recife by 176 torchbearers, including Suely Guimarães, Paralympic discus bronze medalist.
“All this happiness of being chosen as one of the torchbearers to carry the Olympic flame gave me all the hope, guts, strength and determination that an athlete needs,” said Suely. And in one of the most impressive moments of the relay so far, the torch rode the waves with surfing legend Carlos Burle in Ipojuca.“I will never forget what I have lived here,” Carlos said. “It is something that I will tell all my relatives and will keep in my memory forever. Carrying the Olympic flame is an amazing feeling and something that made me proud and emotional.”
The torch will continue its journey to Paraíba, the ninth state to welcome the flame, and the home of Brazil’s biggest São João celebrations.
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.