As the Olympic Torch Relay continues its passage through Rio de Janeiro state, and nears its final destination this coming Friday, athletes from all around the world have been enjoying a stint as torchbearers. But none had a story as moving as that of Mark O’Brien, a 13-year-old from Ireland, who missed out on the opportunity to carry the torch at London 2012 after he fell sick with an illness that attacked his immune system.
Two years later, he wrote to Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman to ask if he could take part in bringing the Olympic flame to its next host city. “I got an email and I thought it was a joke but I checked it was real and I was really happy,” Mark said. “I’m fulfilling a dream, my dad and my sister came with me to see this special day.” Mark was among those to carry the torch in Volta Rendonda on Thursday, 28 July.
On Friday, it moved on to the Vale do Paraíba and passed through Barra do Piraí and Vassouras on the way to the “Imperial City” of Petropolis, where it passed by the famous Crystal Palace.
Luiz Junior, who began trampoline gymnastics for fun at the age of 11 and went on to become South American champion, carried the torch after coming close to qualifying for Rio 2016. “I almost managed a place at Rio 2016 but unfortunately, it didn’t work out,” he said. “Now I can say that I have my part in the Games by carrying the flame.”
Sandra Voloch, former volleyball player, carried her bronze medal from Atlanta 96 along with the Olympic flame as the relay passed through Teresópolis, just outside the city of Rio, on Saturday. “It’s a lot of emotion, a dream come true,” she said.
Meanwhile, as the relay reached Guapimirim, there was a display of the Brazilian martial art capoeira in Paulo Terra Square.
Douglas de Oliveira carried the torch alongside a performance by more than 40 athletes. “Sports transform lives such as mine,” he said. “I’m here with my heart filled with happiness for representing my sport and my city at the Rio 2016 Games. It’s a shame that capoeira is not an Olympic sport, because we would be winners.”
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.