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  • Top Australia Olympian Leads Canberra Torchbearers


    (ATR) Australia's most decorated Olympian is the headline runner in the Canberra leg of the Beijing Torch Relay, while San Francisco begins accepting applications for runners.

    The Anzac parade route and the 2008 torch relay pass the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.  
    Five-time Olympic champion Ian Thorpe leads the list of 80 Australians who will carry the Beijing Olympic torch through its only Australian stop, in Canberra on Apr. 24.

    "It is a great honor to be a small part of the Torch Relay in what will truly be an amazing event," said Thorpe of the Jan. 30 announcement in Canberra.

    Twenty-two of the Australian Olympic Committee's nominees are Olympians or Paralympians. Ron Clarke, the athletics bronze medalist who lit the Melbourne 1956 cauldron will join the relay. Marathon runner and four-time Olympian Robert De Castella will also run. So will Australian sport doyen Julius Patching, a past secretary general of the Australian Olympic Committee.

    "I always march on Anzac Day and I think very deeply about my fallen colleagues. Running with the torch the day before strikes a very deep and warm note as far as I am concerned," says the 90-year-old Navy veteran.

    The Canberra relay will pass the Australian War Memorial and the Anzac parade route in honor of Australia and New Zealand veterans.

    Two of the young people nominated by the AOC are Junior Legatees – young people who lose a parent who is a member of the Australian Defense Forces.

    The government of the Canberra Australian Capital Territory named another three Olympians for the relay, including champion sprinter Marjorie Jackson-Nelson, immediate past governor of the state of South Australia.
    The exact torch relay route in San Francisco is yet to be decided. (Getty Images)  

    In San Francisco, the city and county have launched an essay contest in the search for the torchbearers who will carry the flame in its only stop in North America. The so-called Sustainable Journey will take place on Apr. 9. Members of the public have until Feb. 3 to explain their contributions to community sustainability or why they should be considered to carry the torch.

    "This is our chance to showcase how local innovation and excellence — in fitness, environmental initiatives and sustainable business practices — can be examples for the world,” says San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.

    The worldwide torch relay will require some 21,880 runners, nearly 90 percent of whom will run in the mainland China relay. The fire will be lit at a ceremony in Olympia on Mar. 24. The torch will visit 19 international cities, plus Hong Kong and Macau, ahead of the domestic relay.

    Homepage photo by Getty Images

    Written by
    Maggie Lee

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