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Torch Relay in Beijing Enters 2nd Day
    2008-08-07 07:25:09     CRIENGLISH.com

Two torch beaers hold the flames high, raising their hands together in the air during the relay at the Badaling section of the Great Wall on Thursday morning, August 7, 2008, the second day of the relay in Beijing. [Photo: Xinhua]

Related: Routes And Time of Second-Day Olympic Torch Relay in Beijing

Amid cheers and applause, the Olympic flame began the second-day of its relay in Beijing with an historic run on the Great Wall on Thursday.

Before the relay, a brief ceremony was held at the foot of the Badaling section of the Great Wall, which is one of the city's important landmarks, in Yanqing County more than 70 km north of downtown Beijing.

Crowds had gathered at the scene since the early morning, waving red Chinese flags and the white flags of the Beijing Olympics.

At 7:10 a.m., the first torchbearer, Li Zhonghua, a famous Chinese test pilot, ran on to the Great Wall.

"If you fail to reach the Great Wall, you are not a man," Li said after his stretch of about 50 meters, quoting a saying by Mao Zedong.

"I am really honored and excited. I have been here many times, and I have piloted aircraft over the Great Wall. But being a torchbearer of the Beijing Olympics is the most exciting thing in my life," Li said.

He was followed by 17 other torch bearers climbing up a 900-meter section of the Wall. After passing through two beacon towers, 18th runner Wang Ning climbed on to the Beisi Tower and displayed the torch to the crowd, marking the end of the 15-minute relay on the Great Wall.

Xie Mian, one of the thousands of spectators, said he had arrived very early and was thrilled to see the torch on the Great Wall.

"The Olympic flame represents peace while the Great Wall, which was built for military use in ancient China, has become a symbol of peace and is visited by many Chinese and foreigners every year, " he said.

"It is the first time for the sacred Olympic flame to come to the Great Wall. For the first time, the two symbols of oriental and Western cultures meet here. It is a great honor to see such a grand scene," Xie said.

The Badaling section is the best-preserved and most visited part of the Great Wall. It was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) with a military outpost reflecting its strategic importance.

The Great Wall was built, rebuilt and maintained between the 6th Century BC and the 16th Century. The most famous stretch was built from 220 to 200 BC by Emperor Qin Shihuang. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

TO THE TEMPLE OF THE EARTH

After the historic run on the Great Wall, the Olympic torch left for Changping District, south of Yanqing, to continue its journey.

The second day of the relay would see a total of 268 torchbearers, including 29 from overseas, carrying the Olympic torch and running on a 14.58-km route in 3 hours and 4 minutes.

The route comprised 18 sections in eight of Beijing's 18 districts and counties, including Yanqing, Changping, Huairou, Shunyi and Dongcheng.

The fourth section, about 2,200 meters covered by 34 runners, was in the massive China (Huairou) Movie and TV Industry Zone.

Ren Xiaoyun, the 66th torchbearer who ran in this section, said, "My stretch is over, but the passion has just begun. As a street cleaner, it is a great honor for me. It inspires me to work harder to serve the Beijing Olympics and contribute to the successful hosting of the Games."

Along the road in every section, thousands of people chanted slogans such as "Go China, Go Olympics" and "Go Beijing, Go Olympics" and waved flags to cheer on the torchbearers.

They were also celebrating a 2-1 win on Wednesday night by China over Sweden in their opening match of the Olympic women's soccer tournament.

Thursday's leg is set to end at the Temple of Earth (Di Tan) at about 6:06 p.m. and the final torchbearer is to be ballad singer Song Zuying.

Built in 1530 during the Ming Dynasty, Di Tan was where emperors made sacrifices to the gods for good harvests, auspicious weather and stability.

Di Tan complements the Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan), the final stop of the 16.4-km route on the first day of the relay in the south of Beijing.

The planning of the routes embodied Chinese philosophy, in which Tian is mentioned in relationship to its complementary aspect of Di. These two aspects are thought to maintain the two poles of the Three Realms of reality, with the middle realm occupied by humanity.

A total of 841 torchbearers are to take part in the 38.9-km route over three days in Beijing.

On the first day, the torch started from the landmark Forbidden City and passed other landmarks, including Tian'anmen Square, the egg-shaped National Center for the Performing Arts and Qianmen (the Southern Gate).

A total of 433 bearers, including basketball star Yao Ming and celebrated film director and chief director of the Games opening and closing ceremonies Zhang Yimou, carried the torch on the route.

After being lit at the birthplace of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece on March 24, the torch traveled to Beijing on March 31 for a ceremonial start of its global trip.

Under the theme "Journey of Harmony," the relay took the torch 137,000 km through six continents over 129 days, passing through 21 cities, including Hong Kong and Macao, before touring the mainland on May 4.

On Friday night, the Olympic flame will light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.

 
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