The Olympic flame entered the seventh mainland province yesterday, passing through Suzhou and Nantong.
A total of 104 torchbearers ran along part of the 1,400-year-old Grand Canal, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Canal, which flows across Suzhou, Jiangsu province, in the morning.
They started from the landmark Lion Hill beside the old town, passed through narrow alleys, over small canals and across the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271-1368) Midu Bridge in the more than 2,000-year-old city.
"We want to show a Suzhou that has all the beauty of a water town in the East and the attractions of a heaven on the earth," said Wang Rong, Party secretary of Suzhou.
Eleven foreigners and two Hong Kong residents were also among the 104 torchbearers, as were four world and four Asian champions. But Shen Fengying, a popular pingtan actress, drew the loudest cheers when she ran on the streets of the old town.
"I'm happy to see so many people cheering me, and I believe they're doing so because they genuinely love the art of pingtan," she said. Pingtan is the traditional art of story-telling and ballad-singing in the Suzhou dialect.
The relay in Nantong began on the 32-km-long Suzhou-Nantong Bridge over the Yangtze River, which connects the two delta cities, in the afternoon.
Ge Fei, the last of the 104 torchbearers in the city, is a Nantong native and two-time Olympic gold medal winner.
The highlight on the route was the Haohe Villa, the residence of industrialist Zhang Jian. He founded Nantong's first modern cotton mills in 1899, then developed an industrial complex that included flour, oil and silk reeling mills, a distillery and a machine shop. By 1911, people had begun calling the city Zhang Jian's Kingdom".
The Olympic torch travels north to Taizhou and Yangzhou in Jiangsu province.
Source: China Daily