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Olympic torch relay in Kuala Lumpur concludes
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20:04, April 21, 2008

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The Olympic torch relay went through the capital of Malaysia amid cheers, screams and rain on Monday.

The 13th leg of the torch's global journey saw the last 20 of 80 torchbearers run in rain after a short break in KL Tower, where a parachuting performance was put on.

The start place was at the Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), in which ran three torchbearers. The square is situated in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.

President of Olympic Council of Malaysia, Imran Ibni Tuanku Ja'afar, was the first torchbearer.

"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, aswell as for the country and the city upon the Olympic flame's arrival," said Tuanku Ja'afar before the launching ceremony.

"I just took a surgery to cure my chronical knee disease in order to fully prepare for the torch relay, and now I am so happy to run carrying the flame," he added.

Everything went well as a large number of residents lined the street to greet the relay, until a downpour briefly suspended the relay at the KL Tower, the city TV signal tower.

After a break of several minutes, the relay continued in rain.

The rain didn't put out the enthusiasm of Kuala Lumpur residents, who braved the rain to cheer on the runners.

A Malaysian Chinese student named Wen Long ran all through in company with the flame.

"I feels terrific to run with the flame. The rain is nothing compared with my passion at the moment," said Wen.

"I am looking forward to the Beijing Olympic Games, but I have to take class during the Games and can't go there. Running with the flame is able to make up for that regret."

Marina Mahathir, Lee Chong Wei and Tuanku Azlan Shah, Sultan of Perak are among the high-profile bearers.

Marina Mahathir is the daughter of the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Mahathir Mohammad. She is well known as a leader in many non-governmental organizations, and is currently an active socio-political blogger. She also writes a bi-weekly column in TheStar.

Lee Chong Wei bagged his first five-star event in the 2005 Danish Open badminton tournament. He also successfully defended his Malaysia Open and bagged a bronze in the BWF World Championships.

"I hope the torch relay can bring me good luck and I really hope to win a medal in the Beijing Olympic Games," said Lee, who had owned an unbeaten record in Malaysia for three years from 2004to 2006.

He has won the Malaysian Open for three consecutive years, including 2006 in which, in what is considered one of the greatest comebacks in badminton history, he fought back from 13-20 down and saved eight gold medal points against 2006 world champion Lin Dan,to finally wrap up the match 23-21. In 2005, he beat Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat and Lin Dan en route to the title.

The relay concluded in the square of the Petronas Twin Towers, the second tallest buildings in the world after Taipei 101, as measured to the top of their structural components (spires, but not antennas). It's the second time for the Olympic flame to visit Malaysia after its first appearance in 1964.

"The Olympic Games is a great sports event for athletes all around the world and it's a celebration of peace," said Jiang Xiaoyu, a vice president of the Olympic organizing committee.

"As the third Asian country to host the Olympic Games, the Beijing Olympic Games is for all Asian people. We hope to carry the Olympic flame to countries and cities that have not hosted the Games," added Jiang.

Kuala Lumpur is the largest city of Malaysia. The city proper, covering an area of 244 square kilometers, has a population of 1.6million according to the 2006 census.

Since the 1990s, the city has played host to many international sporting, political and cultural events, including the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the Formula One world championship.

The Olympic flame is leaving Kuala Lumpur for the 14th stop of its global journey in Jakarta on Tuesday.


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