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Torch blazes through pasture of northeast
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08:36, July 14, 2008

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In this northeastern province of towering mountain ranges, vast plains and commanding rivers, the sacred Olympic flame was yesterday carried along the "mother river" of the region's Daur, Manchu and Mongolian ethnic groups - the Nenjiang River.

The Olympic torch relay in Qiqihar followed the course of the river, which originates from the Greater Hinggan Mountains. The waterway cuts across the city and heads south before flowing into the Songhua River.

Qiqihar, which means "great pasture" in the Daur language, was the third and last stop of the three-day relay in Heilongjiang, after Harbin and Daqing.

As one of the oldest cities in the northeast, the 300-year-old Qiqihar includes renowned attractions such as its numerous wetlands and the Zhalong Nature Reserve, which is home to the rare red-crowned crane.

Liu Yan, a figure skater and Qiqihar native, was the first of the 208 torchbearers yesterday. She won a gold medal at the 10th National Sports Meet in 2005.

"The fact that I am given the chance to bear the torch in my hometown will encourage me to work harder," said the 24-year-old.

"I hope I can get a medal in the Winter Olympics two years from now."

Speed skater Fu Tianyu, who was also born in Qiqihar, was the last torchbearer. She also kindled the relay's cauldron.

"An Olympic gold medal has always been my dream," she told reporters.

"I will never give that up."

Source: China Daily

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