Greece lightning: Anna Korakaki to become first woman to start Olympic torch relay

The shooting Olympic champion will start the torch's epic journey from Greece to Japan, and the Tokyo 2020 Games.

With the steady hand of a shooting Olympic champion, Anna Korakaki is set to become the first woman to start the Olympic torch relay for Tokyo 2020.

The Greek, who won the 25m pistol gold medal at Rio 2016, was chosen by the her nation's Olympic committee for the honour.

Korakaki will have her torch lit by a symbolic high priestess at the flame-lighting ceremony in Ancient Olympia, March 12.

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O αθλητισμός συνεχίζει να μου χαρίζει τόσο μεγάλες συγκινήσεις! Σήμερα, μου ανακοινώθηκε επίσημα πως στις 12 Μαρτίου θα είμαι η πρώτη λαμπαδηδρόμος στην τελετή αφής της Ολυμπιακής Φλόγας για τους Ολυμπιακούς Αγώνες «Τόκιο 2020». Μία εβδομάδα αργότερα, η @stefanidi_katerina θα είναι η τελευταία λαμπαδηδρόμος που παραδίδει τη Φλόγα. Ευχαριστώ την Ολομέλεια της Ελληνικής Ολυμπιακής Επιτροπής για την τεράστια τιμή, διότι για πρώτη φορά στην ιστορία, μία γυναίκα στη χώρα μας θα μεταφέρει πρώτη το Ολυμπιακό Φως από την Αρχαία Ολυμπία, πριν ξεκινήσει το μεγάλο του ταξίδι σε όλο τον κόσμο, για να φωτίσει στο Ολυμπιακό στάδιο και την έναρξη των ΧXII Ολυμπιακών Αγώνων στο Τόκιο!🕊 / Extremely honoured, extremely moved! Today the @hellenic_olympic_committee announced I will have the honor to be the first torchbearer for @tokyo2020 Olympics on March 12! A week later, @stefanidi_katerina will deliver the torch as the last torchbearer. What a GREAT HONOR that is, since it's the first time in history a woman carries the Olympic Torch from Ancient Olympia, where its journey around the world begins, till it reaches the Tokyo Olympic Stadium on July 24th for the XXII Olympiad!✨ #thankful #olympictorch #torch #olympics #greece #tokyo2020

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The Olympic torch relay route

After completing the first part of the relay, Korakaki will pass the torch to Athens 2004 women's marathon champion Mizuki Noguchi in Olympia, western Greece.

Japanese triple Olympic champions Tadahiro Nomura (judo) and Saori Yoshida (wrestling) will also carry the torch, to complete it's eight day journey through Greece.

Tokyo organising committee officials will then receive the flame at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, with Greek Rio 2016 pole vault gold medallist Katerina Stefanidi it's final carrier, before being transported from Greece to Japan via. aircraft.

After arriving in Japan on March 20, the Olympic flame will visit all 47 prefectures in Japan over 121 days.

The tour will begin from the northeastern Tohoku region, where nearly 16,000 lost their lives to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The torch relay will end in traditional form, with the flame being carried into the newly-rebuilt National Stadium, before lighting the main cauldron at the opening ceremony, July 24.

Korakaki wins first gold medal for Greece since 2004

Korakaki wins first gold medal for Greece since 2004

Defending her Olympic title

Once Korakaki has completed her torch-bearing duties, her focus will switch back to retaining her Olympic gold medal in pistol shooting.

The University of Macedonia student has shown little sign of a Rio 2016 hangover, having gone on to win the 2018 World Championships in 10m air pistol, before securing the 25m pistol gold medal at the 2019 European Games.

But despite this success, her motivation has never waned.

"The truth is that I have won all titles that you can win in shooting, and in sport in general - even the (10m air pistol) World Record which was my dream," the 23-year-old told Olympic Channel.

"Now I just hope that I'll stay on that level and get the titles again, and again, and again. I hope to stay at the top level for another 10 to 15 years.

A word to her rivals perhaps, that this young shooter has plans of setting even higher top standards in her sport for years to come.

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