IVANOVO, the Ivanovo region, October 17 (Itar-Tass) - The Olympic flame relay race started its triumphant march across the Ivanovo region on Thursday evening. Eighty torch bearers will take turns to carry the torch for 16 kilometers. Veteran athlete Maria Sizyakova, 77, a member of the USSR national squad who took part in the track-and-field multi-sport competitions at the 1964 Summer Olympic Games, was the first to carry the torch.
“After almost 50 years that have passed since the 1964 Olympic Games I am very happy to meet the Olympic flame again. It turns out that my Olympic dream has come true for the second time,” Sizyakova told Itar-Tass. Sizyakova’s family, including the six-year-old granddaughter Anyuta, who is her granny’s most ardent fan, came to greet Maria on Thursday night.
The people of Ivanovo, the administrative center of the Ivanovo region located 254 kilometers away from Moscow, came to greet the Olympic symbol to the square outside the city railway station.
Ivanovo has traditionally been called the textile capital of Russia. Since most textile workers are women, it has also been known as the "city of brides". As if confirming the city’s trademark, a group of young girls accompanied torch bearer Alexander Grushnitsky, an Interior Ministry pensioner, for the entire leg of the relay race.
Fire-fighters dressed in the 19th-century uniforms, met the flame outside the Ivanovo Academy of the Ministry for Emergency Situations. The fire-engines welcomed it with a loud wail of sirens when the torch was passing over from one torch-bearer to the next one.
“This is the only occasion when we, the firefighters, are so happy to see the fire,” the fire-fighters joked.
The Olympic flame relay race continues in Ivanovo. The city Olympic cauldron will be lit on Pushkin Square in the city center later on Thursday.