Greek athlete chosen to become first woman to start Olympic Torch Relay


Bronze medallist Greece’s Anna Korakaki stands on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women’s 10m air pistol shooting event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Shooting Centre in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016. (Photo By PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

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Greek shooting champion Anna Korakaki is set to become the first woman in history to launch the Olympic Torch Relay.

Korakaki will attend the flame lighting ceremony for Tokyo 2020 in Ancient Olympia on March 12. After High Priestess Xanthi Georgiou lights the flame, Korakaki will serve as first torchbearer, according to the official website of the Olympic Games.

“It’s a great honor for me,” Korakaki said in a statement.

“I am thrilled, and I think the feelings will get even more intense in Ancient Olympia. I am looking forward to experiencing that moment and I’m sure it will remain etched in my mind and heart for the rest of my life.”

The Hellenic Olympic Committee chose Korakaki to do the honors. She won two medals at Rio 2016 — the 25m pistol gold medal and 10m air pistol bronze medal.

“It is a historic moment, as for the first time in history a female athlete will be the first torchbearer,” Spyros Capralos, HOC president and member of the International Olympic Committee, said in a statement.

“I believe that Anna Korakaki has honored the Greek flag and our country, and she deserves it, not only for the two medals at the Rio Olympics, but also for her successes after 2016.”

After the flame lighting ceremony in Olympia, where the original games were held, the torch will travel around Greece for eight days before it is passed onto the Tokyo 2020 team in a handover ceremony at Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.

Another Greek athlete, pole vault gold medalist Ekaterina Stefanidi, will be the last to carry the Olympic flame at the Panathenaic Stadium on March 19.

The torch will then be flown from Greece to Japan.

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be held from July 24 to August 9, 2020, and the subsequent Paralympics finish on September 6.

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