PENZA, January 10. /ITAR-TASS/. The Olympic Flame relay has reached Penza Region in the centre of the European part of Russia, Governor Vasily Bochkarev said at a railway station of the regional central city on Friday. Hundreds of regional residents welcomed a special train, which had brought a symbol of the Sochi Olympics from Mordovia in the centre of the European part of Russia. “The keepers of the flame” were hailed with Russian folksongs performed by the local folk music band at the railway platform.
Penza Region has made tangible contribution in Russian Olympic movement, the governor said at the welcome ceremony of the Olympic Flame relay. “According to the results of the latest Summer Olympics in London we occupy the third place in the number of medals in the Volga River region. We are proud that our region had brought up six Olympic ice hockey champions. Along with Penza only Moscow and Chelyabinsk can be praised for such result,” Bochkarev said.
Champion of the Moscow Olympics in 1980 in diving Irina Bazhina was running first 200 metres of the Olympic torch relay in the city of Penza. As many as 205 torchbearers will carry the Olympic torch along the main streets in the city on Friday.
Two of them represent the Paralympic movement, namely ping pong master Aleksey Sapyryaev will pass his distance in a wheelchair, leg-amputated bar athlete Rafik Chitayev will carry the Olympic torch with a leg brace. The winners of the contests of working vocations, including the best welders, lathe operators and plumbers in the city will run a distance with the Olympic torch.
Wonderful theatrical and sport programs will be staged at the stopovers in the Olympic torch relay. Glorious Penza athletes will give ‘an Olympic lesson’ at the city palace of sports. Performances will be also given on Lenin Square and at the local ice palace. Vice-champion of the London Olympics in swimming Anastasia Fesikova (Zuyeva) was granted the right to light up the city Olympic cauldron.
Penza became the 105th city, where the Olympic Flame relay is running. Already in the morning on January 11 neighboring Saratov Region will take over the Olympic Flame relay.