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Olympic flame burns bright in the rain
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08:29, April 22, 2008

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A crowd of over 100,000 people cheered wildly as Cheng Yonghua - all wet in a downpour - carried the Beijing Olympic Torch to the closing ceremony yesterday.

The Chinese ambassador to Malaysia then passed the flame to Tuanku Azlan Shah, Sultan of Perak.

"This is the first relay where it rained," said Qu Yingpu, spokesman for the Beijing Olympic Torch Relay. "We are happy to see the sacred flame burning in the rain."

The 13th leg of the torch's global journey saw the last 20 of the 80 torchbearers run in rain.

Despite the wet and humid weather, a huge crowd of Malays, Chinese, Indians and Westerners were on the streets to welcome the Olympic torch along the 18-km route.

All Malaysian Olympic medalists - among them Cheah Soon Kit, Yap Kim Hock, Mohamad Jalani Mohd Sidek, Mohamad Razif Mohd Sidek and Mohamad Rashid Mohd Sidek - carried the torch.

"This is indeed a great honor for Kuala Lumpur, which wishes the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay a success," said mayor Dato' Ab. Hakim bin Borhan, who stressed that the relay - "the second most important event in the Olympic Movement after the Games itself" - would be "the most significant moment in the lives of the torchbearers".

A panting Cheah said right after his run: "I was a bit nervous at first when holding the torch, and then I felt much more relaxed, happier and prouder as I ran I'm not too tired; (I'm panting because) well, I'm simply too excited."

The relay marked the Olympic flame's first visit to Malaysia since 1964.

Olympic Council of Malaysia president Tunku Tan Sri Imran Tuanku Ja'afar was the first to carry the flame, which passed through local landmarks such as the old Railway Station, the National Mosque and the Merdeka Stadium.

"I am so excited to see the Olympic flame come to the city. It's a great honor not only for me to be the first torchbearer, but also for the country and the city," said Tuanku Ja'afar before the launch ceremony.

"I had surgery to cure a chronic knee disease to fully prepare for the torch relay, and now I am so happy to run carrying the flame," he added.

The torch was taken up to the top of Kuala Lumpur Tower before the relay ended at the Esplanade at Kuala Lumpur City Center.

Following the celebrations last night, the Olympic convoy left for Jakarta, where the relay is scheduled to be held today.

Xinhua contributed to the story

Source: China Daily

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