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Olympic torch starts final-hours run at Beijing's archaeological site
13:21, August 08, 2008


The first torchbearer Feng Gong holds up the torch at the start of the last-day of Beijing Olympic Games torch relay in Zhoukoudian of Beijing, China, Aug. 8, 2008. The Olympic torch started its final-hours relay on Friday morning at Zhoukoudian, an UNESCO heritage site in southwestern Beijing suburb which has yielded many archaeological discoveries. (Xinhua Photo)



The torchbearer Liu Yunguang runs with the torch during the last-day of Beijing Olympic Games torch relay in Beijing, China, Aug. 8, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)



Torchbearer Tian Xiong (2nd R) poses with next torchbearer Achim Steiner (2nd L) during the last-day of Beijing Olympic Games torch relay in Beijing, China, Aug. 8, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)



The torchbearer Hou Xinyi holds up the torch during the last-day of Beijing Olympic Games torch relay in Beijing, China, Aug. 8, 2008.(Xinhua Photo)

The Olympic torch started its final-hours relay on Friday morning at Zhoukoudian, a UNESCO heritage site in southwestern Beijing suburb which has yielded many archaeological discoveries.

Amid loud music and cheers, the first torchbearer Feng Gong, one of the best Chinese comedians, carried the torch and started running at around 7:05 a.m.


Zhoukoudian in Fangshan District is about 48 km southwest of downtown Beijing. It is most famous as the site where the archaeological treasure Peking Man, one of the first specimens of Homo erectus, is discovered. The Peking Man skull fossil dates back 200,000 to 700,000 years.

"As the first torchbearer at Zhoukoudian, it is an honor for my whole life. Though I just ran for 70 to 80 meters, it seemed to me that I have passed through the tunnel of time and space," Feng told Xinhua after his stretch.

"From primitive stone tools used by prehistoric humans to the 'Bird's Nest' and the 'Water Cube', human civilizations have been passed down generations to generations, just like the Olympic torch relay," said the 51-year-old performer, referring to the National Stadium and the National Aquatics Center.

Following him, nine other torchbearers carried the torch and ran in turn to finish the 652-meter section within this archaeological-site-turned park. It took them about 10 minutes.

Leaving the park, the Olympic torch advanced for Mentougou District, north of Fangshan, to continue its journey.

Friday is the final day of a three-day relay in Beijing. A total of 140 torchbearers will run in turn on a 7.9-km route.

The relay will end at about 12:15 p.m. at the No. 101 Middle School of Beijing, also home to the Olympic Youth Camp.

Sun Xuecai, vice chairman of the organizing committee of the torch relay in Beijing, said on Thursday that right after the torch relay ends at the school, the Olympic flame will be handed over to the Games' opening ceremony group.

A total of 841 torch bearers are to take part in the 38.9-km route over three days in Beijing, according to the organizing committee.

On the first day, the torch started its journey from the landmark Forbidden City in the center of the host city. After passing other landmarks, including Tian'anmen Square, the egg-shaped National Center for the Performing Arts and Qianmen (the Southern Gate), the torch relay ended at the Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan).

On Thursday, the Olympic flame began the second day of its relay with a historic run on the Great Wall. It ended at the Temple of Earth (Di Tan) in the afternoon.

After being lit at the birthplace of the Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece on March 24, the torch traveled to Beijing on March 31 for a ceremonial start of its global trip.

Under the theme "Journey of Harmony," the relay took the torch 137,000 km through six continents over 129 days, passing through 21 cities, including Hong Kong and Macao, before touring the mainland on May 4.

On Friday night, the Olympic flame will be used to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Source:Xinhua

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