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Torch relay in Chengdu
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Heralding the coming of the Games, the holy torch, the Olympics most visible symbol, heads for the capital tonight.

There was a joyful reception for the Olympic torch today as the flame came to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. Once more, those who suffered most from the May 12th earthquake, were energized to rebuild their communities as they showed their enthusiasm for the Games.

Chengdu is a city of many ethnic minorities, making the arrival of the torch relay a cheerful, colourful affair and it ends with festive dancing. Given that Sichuan is the home of the pandas, a performance of the panda dance to welcome the flame became an absolute must. On the streets of the provincial capital came an outpouring of passion for the Olympics, energizing the will to stand up to natural disasters and to rebuild ruined homes.

Before the relay began there was a minute of silence in memory of those who died in the Wenchuan earthquake.

Then at about 8, former Olympic shooting champion Zhang Shan got the relay underway from the Chengdu Export Processing Zone.

Zhang, who started shooting in 1984, snatched the Olympic gold medal in skeet in 1992. She defeated five male opponents but then retired shortly after.

Chengdu is a city with a history extending over two-thousand years. It's an important political, economic and military centre of southwest China. And it is the final stop in Sichuan province, before the Olympic torch heads back to Beijing.

315 torchbearers carried the torch over a 13 kilometer-route. The course took the Olympic flame past historical sites and local landmarks. It passed Du Fu Cottage--a memorial to a renowned poet of the Tang Dynasty.

The Olympic torch returns to Beijing this evening. Tomorrow it begins its 3 day journey through the capital.

The Sichuan portion of the torch relay originally had been planned for June. After the May 12th earthquake the tour was rescheduled for August 3 to 5th.

(CCTV August 5, 2008)

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