The 61-year-old Hoshino is popular in Japan. As a baseball player, he helped his team win two league championships. He coached two teams to three trophies in national league championship.
Kosuke Kitajima, gold medalist in the Athens Games, was in the 72th place bearing the torch.
Kitajima first made history by being the first swimmer to set a new world record at the Asian Games when he did so in the 200m breaststroke in 2002 at Busan.
He won gold medals for the men's 100m and 200m breaststroke in the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cui Tiankai (Front) raises the torch during the 16th leg torch relay of the Beijing Olympic flame started at 8:30 a.m. local time Saturday, April 26, 2008, in Nagano city of central Japan. (Xinhua Photo)
Mizuki Noguchi, a long-distance athlete, was credited to run the last leg and lit the cauldron in the celebration ceremony.
Noguchi was born in Kanagawa, but grew up in Ise in Ise city in Mie. She started competing in track and field during her first year of middle school. While attending Ujiyamada Commercial High School, she entered the national high school track meet and competed in the 3000m and the long-distance relay.
After winning the Inuyama half-marathon in 1999, she was inspired to concentrate her efforts on that event. She was ranked second in the world that year, and in 2001 she won in the all-Japan corporate league.
With a string of victories, she became known as "Queen of the Half Marathon". Continuing through the Miyazaki Women's Road Race competition in January 2004, she competed in 24 half marathons, and won 14 of them. Only twice was she beaten by another Japanese athlete.
In March 2002 she entered her first full marathon, the Nagoya International Women's Marathon, and won. In January 2003 she won the Osaka International Women's Marathon with a time of 2 hours 21 minutes 18 seconds, the second-fastest on record for Japan.
Torchbearer Ai Fukuhara, table tennis player, runs with the torch in Nagano, Japan, on April 26, 2008. Nagano is the 16th stop of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch relay. (Xinhua Photo)
Another renowned athlete is Ai Fukuhara, a Japanese table tennis player, who was born on November 1, 1988 in the city of Sendai.
She uses short pimples on the backhand and reversed rubber on the forehand. Following her mother, Chiyo Fukuhara, into the world of table tennis, she began playing at the age of 3 and became a professional at age 10.