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Torchbearer Yuriy Kuznetsov: carrying the Olympic flame is my childhood dream


Today the flame passed Izborsk and Pskov, tomorrow it will be received in Gatchina, the day after tomorrow it will be seen by the residents of St. Petersburg, on October the 28th the torch relay will hit the streets of Kronshtadt, Lomonosov, Peterhoff, Pavlovsk and Pushkin. 14 thousand people are participating in the torch relay. And every one of them is a person with a special story. One of them is “Sankt Peterburg” TV channel’s producer Yuriy Kuznetsov.


The flame was brought to Leningrad on a “Red Arrow” train. The 1980 Olympics was held in Moscow, but other cities were partly participating.

As a result, not only the torch was taken through Leningrad’s embankments, but even taken on a boat along the Neva river – to highlight the Baltic stage of the torch relay. One of those meeting the Olympic flame was a kid from a school for the disabled Yura Kuznetsov.

Yuriy Kuznetsov, torchbearer of Winter Olympics 2014: “I don’t remember who the torchbearer was – I think it was a man. But I still do have memories of that moment”.

The 1980 Olympics seemed as something much bigger than just a sports competition. Never before had the Soviet Union been as open to the rest of the world.

The Olympic bear taking off into the skies, Sergey Belov running at the stadium, relay at the Copper Rider monument – all this left a deep impression with the kid from Leningrad and since then he’s had a dream – to carry the Olympic torch. 

33 years later he received the happiest letter in his life. 

Yuriy Kuznetsov, torchbearer of Winter Olympics 2014: “You have become a participant of the Olympic torch relay. From that moment on, I’ve been feeling like im taking part in a very meaningful event”

This meaningful event seriously mobilized Yuriy. His wheelchair went through a thorough inspection, which he had to decorate for such occasion. It’s on this wheelchair that Yuriy will carry the torch for 300 meters – that’s the standard length of a torch relay segment. 

Also, according to regulations, he will have to remove all trademarks and other signs. 

Yuriy Kuznetsov, torchbearer of Winter Olympics 2014: “Its 6 years old. Like a war horse. This wheelchair is the only of its kind in the city”

Having learnt the relay route on the map, Yuriy was done with theory. Going more practical, on foot he measured the 300 meters, which he had been dreaming of all his life. The segment he received – a bit of the Potemkinskaya street – is not coincidental too. It was here that his dream was born back in 1980. 

Yuriy Kuznetsov, torchbearer of Winter Olympics 2014: “Here is where I spent my childhood years. And oh my – now im here again”

The Sochi 2014 Olympic relay is the most extensive one in the history of the Winter Olympics. 65 thousand kilometers, 14 thousand torchbearers. 

In a typical Siberian display of might and extent the flame will even be transported on a Troika and on a reindeer carriage. But the unified outlook of torchbearers is quite modest.

Yuriy Kuznetsov, torchbearer of Winter Olympics 2014: “I will have a tracksuit, a hat and gloves. And I get to keep them as a present. As for the torch, I can buy it out. I can already say that I’ve bought it and will bring it to the studio”

That’s the same studio where the “Pulse of the city” program is broadcasted from. 

Yuriy Kuznetsov is an employee of our channel, that’s why he’ll be carrying the torch as a true reporter. He’s planning to attach a portable camera to his wheelchair.

The truth is – Yuriy became torchbearer from a second attempt.  He failed his exam and was turned down. But they suggested he’d write a short essay: “Why I want to be a torchbearer”. And he wrote it honestly, as it was – about July 1980, a 15-year old boy and what to him seemed as a crazy dream.