PyeongChang 2018: Paralympic flame makes final lapPenultimate hand-off in Torch Relay made in Gangneung ahead of Opening Ceremony 09 Mar 2018
“Tonight, the excitement builds further as we begin the final leg of the torch relay. By the time the Paralympic flame reaches tomorrow’s Opening Ceremony, 800 torch bearers running in pairs will have taken part. I was one of them this afternoon.”
Warm. Getting warmer.
As the Opening Ceremony draws closer, so does the Paralympic flame.
The fifth stop of the Paralympic Torch Relay was celebrated in Gangneung on 8 March, and also marked the penultimate flame exchange before reaching its final destination – the cauldron at the Olympic Stadium in PyeongChang.
The Paralympic flame began its journey around South Korea on 2 March in Seoul, and has travelled to Chuncheon, Wonju, Jeongseon – the site of the Para alpine skiing and snowboard competitions – and now Gangneung, where Para ice hockey and wheelchair curling will be contested.
The moment was celebrated at the Gangneung City Hall, where hundreds of guests packed inside to watch the torch relay exchange.
But before the main event took place, guests were entertained with a “samulnori” performance, a traditional Korean percussion quartet that rallied excitement and fed the audience a taste of Korean culture that they will experience in the next 10 days.
Afterward, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons delivered a speech, thanking the mayor of Gangneung Myunghee Choi, president of Gangneung City Council Yeongdon Cho, governor of Gangwon Province Munsun Choi and secretary general of PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee Hyeonggoo Yeo for their efforts in the Paralympic Torch Relay event.
“Over the last seven days the excitement for these Games has intensified as a result of the Paralympic Torch Relay Flame lighting events in five different parts of Korea, as well as Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement,” Parsons said. “Tonight, the excitement builds further as we begin the final leg of the torch relay. By the time the Paralympic flame reaches tomorrow’s Opening Ceremony, 800 torch bearers running in pairs will have taken part. I was one of them this afternoon.”
On Thursday, Parsons passed the torch to IPC founding President Dr. Robert Steadward, symoblising the action as “connecting their passion for the Paralympic Movement.”
That Thursday evening following Parsons’ speech, Jiwoo Choi, a famous Korean actress, and Kyungmin Kim, a student from O-sun School and young Para track and field athlete, entered the room with the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic torch. Together, they made their way to the front of the room to light the cauldron that signified the second-to-last exchange, and also was a fitting celebration of International Women’s Day.
“I am honoured to be here as one of the last torch bearers,” said Choi, a leading figure in campaigns regarding to change of recognition toward those with vision impairments.
Kim said she felt good to be among one of the hundreds of torch bearers for the Paralympic Winter Games in her home country, and that she is looking forward to watching wheelchair curling.
By the time the flame reaches PyeongChang, it would have travelled for 2,018 kilometers and covered all corners of the country.
“I look forward to seeing you tomorrow as we open the biggest Paralympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. And as the song says, let everyone shine!” Parsons closed.
Every competition as well as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies can be watched live right here on the International Paralympic Committee’s website. Highlights of each day’s action will also be made available.