Last Sunday the symbol of the Winter Olympics was carried through the streets of St. Petersburg. Alexander Berezhoy witnessed the relay.
The reception was very warm, despite the trademark rain. Hundreds came to see the Olympic flame of the 22nd Winter Games with their own eyes - sportsmen, school pupils, pensioners. A grandiose show was organized for them at the Pobedy square. Then the governor of St. Petersburg addressed the crowd.
Georgiy Poltavchenko, Governor of St. Petersburg: “I don’t know about you, but I now feel slightly anxious – as if im at the Olympics already. Because the Olympic flame is the symbol of the Olympic Games. It reminds all of us – all people on the planet – that sport brings us together, makes us better, cleaner, gives us an opportunity to understand each other. God speed, Olympic torch relay”.
The 1952 athletics champion Galina Zybina was given the right to kick-start the Olympic procession. And here is the long-awaited moment.
Among those carrying the torch through the streets of St.Petersburg – “Sankt Peterburg” TV channel’s producer Yuriy Kuznetsov. He participated in the relay under number 185. Yuriy had been dreaming of becoming an Olympic torchbearer ever since the Moscow Olympics - when St. Petersburg was called Leningrad. 33 years on his dream came true.
Yuriy Kuznetsov, torchbearer of Winter Olympics 2014/ producer of “Sankt Peterburg” TV channel: “Its great! Its unforgettable! My heart is still racing. I’ve been thinking about it since the 1980 Olympics – whether anything like that could happen again. And there it happened!”.
And this is the first and only stop of the torch relay in the Northern capital. Here, at the Petropavlovskaya fortress two torches of the two Olympic Games held in our country – the 1980 in Moscow and 2014 in Sochi – finally met. For more authenticity, a retro-car was brought to the Sobornaya square – the very same cars drove the Olympic flame through St. Petersburg more than 3 decades ago. Symbols of the two Olympics on a “Volga”. This break in the relay is essentially a sign of continuity and respect for traditions.
During this break, the flame was put in a special lantern. The next participant is the only one who didn’t get the flame from another torchbearer.
Andrey Sherbakov, torchbearer: “I feel like im participating in a very important international event. Which happened on such a beautiful square in central St.Petersburg – the place where the city itself was born, and now my torch came alive from the flame in the lantern”.
By 18-00 – the culmination and the finale of the Olympic torch relay. Several thousand citizens came to witness this final stage at the Dvortsovaya square. Before lighting the Olympic cauldron - underneath the arch of the Headquarters – the crowd was treated to a grandiose concert and words of congratulation from all across the country – even from the space station.
The final torch bearing stage was handed to 6-time Olympic champion in ski racing Lyubov Egorova. A little later the legendary sportswoman would admit to being not any less excited than at serious competitions. She lit the Olympic cauldron together with Georgiy Poltavchenko.
Lyubov Egorova, torchbearer, 6-time Olympic champion: “Its not only an honored privilege, but also a very exciting moment. Future stages depend on how you run during the final stage, how the Olympic cauldron will be lit – our team’s success will depend on it”
This day can be called the main Olympic event of this year in St. Petersburg. According to the police, 700 thousand residents of St. Petersburg observed the relay at its different stages.
Georgiy Poltavchenko, governor of St. Petersburg: “We are one team – solid and strong, which can solve any issues, any tasks. And the fact that despite our trademark poor weather, tens, hundreds of thousands have gathered to watch the relay – nobody made them – this is the benchmark of our success”.
After dark, the Olympic flame’s journey through St. Petersburg didn’t end. Following the official end of the relay, father and son - Mikhail and Sergey Boyarskie carried the torch through the Blagoveshenskiy bridge – for the sake of a good picture.