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HOC announces first torchbearer for Beijing Olympics
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From left: The High Priestess of the Lighting Ceremony Maria Nafpliotou, choreographer Artemis Ignatiou, Pigi Devetzi and Alexandros Nikolaidis appear at a press conference yesterday. The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) yesterday announced the program of the Lighting Ceremony of the Olympic Flame for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on March 24 in Ancient Olympia.

President of Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) Minos Kyriakou announced on Thursday that the Olympic silver medalist Alexandros Nikolaidis will be the first torchbearer for Beijing Olympic Games.

The Lighting ceremony of Beijing Olympic Flame is scheduled to be held in Ancient Olympia on March 24. Alexander will receive in Ancient Olympia the sacred flame from the High Priestess and will give the signal for its long voyage to Beijing.

Kyriakou said that Alexander was chosen as the first torchbearer, not only because he will participate for the third time in Olympic Games in Beijing and apart his athletics abilities, he is example to follow, for his morality, his modesty and his integrity.

Alexander told Xinhua that he had visited Beijing last year and he likes Beijing very much.

He wishes to achieve better result in Beijing Olympic Games in August.

Alexander began taekwondo when he was a little child at the age of 3. His first big success was in 1996 when he won the gold medal in World Junior Championship in Barcelona.

At Sidney's 2000 Olympic Games, he made his first appearance in Olympics but he was unlucky as he suffered serious injury during the quarterfinal match and had to quit.

The leading moment in his career was the silver medal in Athens 2004 Olympic Games, in the over 80 kilograms category.

(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2008)

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