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Olympic torch relay kicks off in mainland
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Yang Yang kicks off the torch relay in Sanya, May 4.

Yang Yang kicks off the torch relay in Sanya, May 4.

The 2008 Beijing Olympic torch relay kicked off in Sanya, a city of China's southernmost island province of Hainan, Sunday morning, the first leg in Chinese mainland.

Famous basketball player Yi Jianlian runs with the torch during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch relay in Sanya, south China, on May 4, 2008.

At the Fire Phoenix Square of the Phoenix Island, China's short track speed skating Olympic champion Yang Yang became the first torchbearer.

Yang Lan

Yang Lan during the torch relay in Sanya, May 4.

"I felt both excited and nervous to be the first torchbearer in the Chinese mainland," said Yang, the first Chinese gold medalist in the Winter Olympic Games.

Yang won two gold medals in the women's 500m and 1,000m short track speed skating at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games in 2002 to end China's gold drought at the winter Olympics.

She has collected a total of 59 world titles in her career in the World Championships and World Cups before her retirement at the age of 30 in August, 2006.

A total of 208 torchbearers will run through the 30.09 km route that will end at the senic spot of Tianya Haijiao, passing the Crown of Beauty Center, Haiyue Square of Sanya Gulf and Haihong Square.

This is the first leg of the 2008 Beijing Olympic torch relay in Chinese mainland.

Under the schedule, the flame will go to Wuzhishan city on Monday, and arrive in Haikou, the capital city of Hainan Province on Tuesday.

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