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Torch relay continues on Great Wall of China

Latest update : 2008-08-08

The Olympic torch relay passed along the Great Wall of China on Thursday, although the monument was obscured by haze. The flame was greeted by thousands of cheering volunteers.

The Olympic torch relay passed along the Great Wall of China on Thursday greeted by thousands of cheering volunteers, although the spectacular monument was obscured by haze.

The torch relay continued its epic global journey along one of China's most famous attractions north of Beijing, just one day before the opening ceremony in the capital.

Its passage along the Badaling section of the Great Wall was cheered by hundreds of volunteers dressed in yellow, with a giant Chinese dragon model paraded above a beacon tower.

"This section is pretty steep, but all these people cheered us on, they are so enthusiastic, we were all very excited, so we did not feel tired," said Yi Na, a torchbearer and literature student at People's University.

Many of the spectacular landscape views that the Great Wall offers were obscured by a thick haze that also descended on Beijing's city centre and near the Olympic venues.

But the poor visibility, which has stoked fears Beijing's notorious pollution could harm athletes' performance, did not dampen the enthusiasm of many who saw the relay.

A total of 268 torchbearers would carry the flame on a 14.6-kilometre (9.1-mile) route in about three hours, Xinhua said.

"I feel very proud that I could take part in this event, I'm very happy, I hope the Games are a great success for Beijing, Go Olympics, Go China," Zhao Hongfei, a student volunteer, told AFP.

The first torchbearer on Thursday was pilot Li Zhonghua, who began his leg at 7:10 am (2310 GMT Wednesday), Xinhua said.

The torch relay was greeted by huge crowds when it began its journey through the capital on Wednesday, where it was carried by basketball star Yao Ming and pioneer astronaut Yang Liwei.

The final stages in Beijing mark an end to the most ambitious and controversial torch relay in Olympic history, after protests dogged its global journey and the domestic leg was overshadowed by the Sichuan earthquake.

The Great Wall was begun more than 2,000 years ago to bolster the country's defences against attacks and has since become one of the country's major tourist attractions.

Date created : 2008-08-07