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PERM, January 03, 16:32 /ITAR-TASS/. The Olympic torch relay race continued on Friday in Kungur, one of the oldest cities in Russia’s Perm region.
The Olympic flame arrived at the main stadium of the city, Trud, on board a helicopter accompanied by the Perm region governor, the region’s premier and the sports minister. It was met at the stadium by the first torchbearers in Kungur - Svetlana Vysokova and Anastasiye Chirtsova.
“I was very pleased; it is a big honor to participate in the first stage of the relay race in the Perm region. I learned only yesterday that my lap will be on skates, it is for the first time since my child was born two years ago that I will skate,” said Vysokova, a bronze medal winner of the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin (Italy) in speed skating. “My sports carrier is finished, but I have a chance to take a modest part in the fourth Olympics in my life,” she said. Vysokova relayed the torch to Anastasiya Chirtsova, a member of the Russian national freestyle team and participant in the Universiade in China and the World Cup.
Vladimir Malykh, many-time world and European champion among veterans, a maraphone runner who twice won world athletics championships, was the last torchbearer in Kungur.
All in all 25 athletes and public activists carried the Olympic torch five kilometers across Kungur. After the relay race, hot-air balloons lifted the torch into the air. The Kungur phase of the relay race ended with “a dance of elephants” in which hot-air balloons synchronously moved to the music.
Now, the flame returns to Perm where it will be housed for the night at the Orlyonok palace of sports.
The Perm stage of the relay race will begin early on Saturday, with 235 people taking turns to carry the torch 47 kilometers across city streets. There will be renowned athletes, scientists, painters, medics and teachers from across the region among them.