Lausanne (Switzerland), Sep 20 — Greek Alpine skier Ioannis Antoniou has been named as the first torchbearer of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay.
The 18-year-old will carry the torch once it has been lit at a special lighting ceremony, which will take place in Ancient Olympia Sep 29. The ceremony will see several ‘priestesses’ perform a traditional celebration at the Temple of Hera in which the torch will be kindled by the light of the sun using a parabolic mirror.
The torch will then begin its journey to the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games, which will be held Feb 7.
Antoniou, who hopes to compete at the Winter Games in Sochi, has been skiing since he was just four years old when he was encouraged to take up the sport by his parents, who are both physical education professors.
He has been a member of the Greek national ski team since 2011 and competed at the FIS World Junior Alpine Skiing Championships in 2012 before representing his country at the 2013 FIS World Alpine Skiing Championships in Schladming, Austria.
Once the Olympic flame reaches Russia Oct 7, the relay will travel approximately 65,000km around the country, making it the longest in the Winter Games history, as it visits more than 2,900 towns and settlements, carried by more than 14,000 bearers.
“The Olympic Torch Relay is one of the most important and magical Olympic occasions,” explains Dmitry Chernyshenko, president and CEO of Sochi 2014. “It continues the build-up of excitement ahead of the Games and, as well as spreading the Olympic values to the whole country. We will be creating, as a nation, an important part of Russian history.”