The first 10 participants in the Rio 2016 Olympic Torch Relay in Brasília represent excellence and the essence of Brazilians. They embody the values to be found in every heart in the country. They reflect respect, strength, the overcoming of obstacles, dedication and solidarity.
By 5 August, the day of the Rio 2016 Games’ opening ceremony, they and the other 12,000 torchbearers will have fulfilled the same mission: to carry the Rio 2016 Olympic torch to announce the arrival of the first Olympic Games of Brazil and South America. The Game’s flame will pass by, generate energy and excite the country and world with the Olympic ideals.
See below a list of the first 10 torchbearers, in order of participation:
1) Fabiana Claudino
A two-time Olympic champion (2008 and 2012) and the captain of the Brazilian volleyball team, Fabiana Claudino is considered one of the world’s best attackers. The 1.93-m player was born in Santa Luzia, in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte. She is one of the players coach José Roberto Guimarães is relying on to win the Olympic volleyball championship for a third time at the Rio Games, giving him another victory in his 10 years as coach.
2) Artur Ávila Cordeiro de Melo
The first researcher from Brazil and indeed the whole of Latin America to win a Fields Medal, the “Nobel Prize of Mathematics,” Artur Ávila Cordeiro de Melo divides his time between Rio and Paris, where he coordinates studies at the Brazilian National Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (Impa) and the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). The 36-year-old Rio-born mathematician will carry the torch to emphasise the importance of education for the country’s development and the preparation of its athletes and citizens.
3) Gabriel Hardy
Aged 16, Gabriel Hardy already has various prizes and achievements, such as winning at the Brazilian Youth Karate Championships and coming third at the South American Karate Championships. A student at a public school in Sobradinho, a satellite town of the Federal District, he acts as a young agent for Transforma, the programme conducted in partnership with the federal government to take the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games into schools. Gabriel trains at the Hardy Association, an NGO run by his father, karate teacher Heitor Hardy, which caters to around 100 deprived children and youth in the town.
4) Ângelo Assumpção
One of Brazil’s promising athletes at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Ângelo Assumpção is a member of the Brazilian artistic gymnastics team who specialises in the vault and floor events. Last year, during the São Paulo leg of the Gymnastics World Challenge Cup, the São Paulo-born athlete went onto the podium to receive the gold medal in the vault event, alongside his great idol, gymnast Diego Hypólito. After suffering an episode of cyber bullying, the 19-year-old athlete overcame prejudice and now shows that it was worthwhile believing in the dream of sport.
5) Aurilene Vieira de Brito
The director of Augustinho Brandão State School in Cocal dos Alves, Piauí, Aurilene Vieira de Brito faces the everyday difficulties of educating children in one of the 30 worst-performing municipalities in Brazil in terms of the Human Development Index. Despite the unpromising context, she has managed to put her school among the best in secondary education in the country, overcoming students’ education gap and winning dozens of medals at Mathematics and Chemistry Olympics. Aurilene epitomises the determination of Brazilians and proves that education is capable of surpassing economic and regional obstacles.
6) Hanan Khaled Daqqah
Hanan and her family lived in the city of Idlib in northeast Syria, one of the stages of the country’s civil war. Her father was arrested on charges of people trafficking, by helping friends to escape from violence. He was detained for 11 months and, after he was released, he started to receive death threats from both governing and opposition groups. The family then sought aid in Jordan, where they lived for two and a half years at the Zaatari refugee camp. In 2015 they arrived in Brazil as part of the federal government’s humanitarian visa programme, which facilitates the entry to Brazil of people affected by the conflict in
Syria. All the family members were recognised by the government as refugees and they are now rebuilding their lives in Brazil. Aged 12, Hanan lives in São Paulo with her father, mother, older brother and baby sister, as well as uncles, aunts and four cousins, in a small downtown apartment. Hanan’s mother is pregnant again, and so Hanan will soon have a Brazilian brother.
7) Adriana Araújo
Adriana Araújo is the only Brazilian woman to have won an Olympic medal in boxing, having taken bronze four years ago at the London 2012 Olympic Games, in the under 60 kg category. The 34-year old from Bahia, who won Brazil’s 100th Olympic medal, wants to continue to make history at the Rio Games. To this end, she moved from Salvador to São Paulo last year to dedicate herself exclusively to training.
8) Gabriel Medina
One of the biggest idols in Brazilian sport, Gabriel Medina started to win surfing contests at a young age. The surfer, who was born in São Sebastião, São Paulo, in 1993, won his first national championship when he was 11, and at the age of 15 he became the youngest athlete to win a stage of the ASP World Tour. In late 2014 he made history as the first Brazilian to win a World Championship Tour. Far from the sea, Gabriel will carry the flame that represents the Olympic dream on foot.
9) Paula Pequeno
Voted the best female player at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, two-time Olympic champion Paula Pequeno is now a member of the Brazilian volleyball team in the Super League. The 34-year-old outside hitter has had a victorious career, taking part in key Brazilian teams and competing in Russia and Turkey. Her determination and energy, two of her most striking characteristics on the court, will represent the spirit of Brazil when she carries the Olympic torch.
10) Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima
Former marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro de Lima, 46, was the main character in one of the most emotional moments in the history of the Olympic Games. He was leading the marathon in 2004, in Greece when, 6 km from the finish line, he was knocked over by a religious protester who had got around the security barrier. Rather than giving up, the athlete re-joined the race and took bronze. For his demonstration of the Olympic spirit, the International Olympic Committee gave Vanderlei a Pierre de Coubertin Medal. He was the first Latin American to receive this award. Carrying the Olympic torch, this athlete will convey the pride of being Brazilian.