The Olympics. An adrenaline fuelled lineup of world-class athletes who shed blood, sweat and tears delivering a performance of a lifetime in search of that coveted gold status recognition. But unbeknownst to most, and a frustrating fact — the Olympic torch relay that kicks off the Olympic Games has never been initiated by a female athlete. Thankfully, it’s 2020 and things are turning around, with the announcement of Greek shooting Olympian Anna Korakaki as the starting athlete to carry out the honour for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Greece’s Anna Korakaki will be the first woman ever to start the Olympic torch relay following the flame-lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia.— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) February 7, 2020
She won Olympic gold in the 25m pistol as well as a bronze medal in the 10m air pistol at the Rio Games in 2016. pic.twitter.com/BGpyach37K
Announced by Greece’s Hellenic Olympic Committee on Thursday, Anna will kick off the first portion of the relay with a flame lighting ceremony on March 12 in Olympia, Greece, the ancient site which hosted the original Games. The 23-year-old will then hand off the torch to Japanese runner Mizuki Noguchi, who will then pass it on to Japanese wrestler Saori Yoshida and finally, Greek pole vaulter Katerina Stefanidis will be the final athlete to carry the torch while it makes the rounds in Greece.
Anna, a shooting world champion who landed a gold and bronze medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, took to Instagram to share her excitement. “What a great honour that is, since it’s the first time in history a woman carries the Olympic Torch from Ancient Olympia, where its journey around the world begins, till it reaches the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on July 24th for the XXII Olympiad!,” she captioned excitedly in her post.
The relay will travel around Greece for eight days, before the handover ceremony at Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium, followed by the final move to the host country of Japan. Once there, the flame will visit all 47 prefectures before its final arrival at Tokyo’s National Stadium to light the Olympic cauldron during the opening ceremony on July 24.
Now, here’s why you need to check yourself into the Mandarin Oriental in Bodrum.