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Olympic Torch Relay for Athens 2004 will have stations in Munich and Berlin

The 94-year-old Siegfried Eifrig, Olympic torch relay runner from 1936 will participate

2004-05-02

Led by the NOK president Klaus Steinbach, numerous prominent personalities from the areas of sport, science, and culture will be participating in the Olympic torch relay through Munich (June 29) and Berlin (June 30). The longest Olympic torch relay of all times will return after travelling through 33 cities in 26 countries on July 9 to the host country of the Olympic Summer Games (from August 13-29).

While presenting the programme at a recent NOK press conference in Berlin, Steinbach said, "I run about 15 km three times a week and think that I am well prepared for my stretch" The once world-class swimmer who participated in the 1972 Olympics in Munich will carry the torch 400 metres.

The NOK head will also be escorting other torch bearers 2 km through the Berlin. The former world-champion boxer Henry Maske, decathalete Olympic gold medalist Christian Schenk, hurdler Mike Fenner, and many others will carry the torch along the 50 km course through Berlin. There will be a total of 120 runners carrying the torch through Berlin.

On Wednesday morning, June 30th, the flame will arrive in Berlin with full entourage in 2 Boeing 747s from Munich. Starting at noon, it will then be carried through Berlin, the site of the 1936 Olympics.

The torch relay will approximately follow the course of the BERLIN-MARATHON. "It will pass by all of the important spots in Berlin", said Dieter Krickow, the head of the German Olympic Institute in Berlin.

The race is to pass by many sights, such as the Schöneberg City Hall and the Federal Chancellery. At about 6 p.m., the big evening closing event will start on Pariser Platz in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Along with lots of show and music, all of the German Olympic athletes will be introduced. In addition, the semi-final of the European Football Championships will be broadcast on a giant screen.

For the first time, this year the flame will tour through all of the former Olympic cities before it arrives at the opening ceremonies of the 21st Olympic Summer Games on August 13 in the Athens Olympic Stadium.

The Olympic Torch Relay was intruduced at the 11th Olympic Games in 1936 in Berlin, after being lit by the sun through a concave mirror in the ailantery of Zeus. A young woman dressed as a priestess held the torch in the focal point of the mirror. It took 15 seconds for the torch to light. The young Greek man, Konstantin Kondyllis was the first runner to carry the torch, which then was carried over 3000 kilometres across Europe to Berlin in 11 nights and 12 days. On August 1, 1936, the Olympic flame reached Berlin.

Siegfried Eifrig, a member of the sport club SCC Berlin - organizer of the famous BERLIN-MARATHON -, carried the torch as the last runner, escorted by 6 runners from SCC, down the boulevard "Unter den Linden" to the Lustgarten, where in a festive celebration he lit an alter where the flame burned until the next day when it was taken on its final journey to the Olympic Stadium. Each runner was allowed to keep his torch - Siegfried Eifrig still has his today.

Siegfried Eifrig has kept fit over years by jogging, walking, and biking. And on June 30th, almost seventy years later, he will again be part of the torch relay.


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