The Olympic flame began its 95-day journey through over 300 of Brazil's cities yesterday. The relay will come to an end at the Olympic Games official inauguration ceremony which will take place at the Maracana Stadium on August 5 in Rio de Janeiro.

Two-time Olympic champion in volleyball at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, Fabiana Claudino, received the torch from the hands of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff at the Planalto Palace (the official workplace of the president).

Claudino began her journey through the Ministries Esplanade, a large avenue where the public authorities buildings are located. Claudino was chosen as the first torch bearer by Rousseff in honour of the women's volleyball team who are seeking to win the Olympics for a third consecutive time in Rio 2016.The second torch bearer, Arturo Avila Cordeiro de Melo, was the first Latin American to win the fields medal, considered the Nobel Prize of mathematics.

He was chosen to highlight the importance of education for Brazil's development. Going back to athletes, Angelo Assumpcao (artistic gymnastics) and Adriana Araujo, who won Brazil's first Olympic medal in women's boxing with a bronze medal in the 60 kg category at London 2012, were also among the privileged few that were chosen to carry the torch at the start of its journey in the South American country.

Gabriel Medina, Brazil's first athlete to win a surfing world title in 2014 and Paula Pequeno, who was voted the best female volleyball player at Beijing 2008, also carried the torch.

The journey in the capital's central area came to an end inside Brasilia's cathedral where Paula Pequeno handed over the torch to marathon runner Vanderlei Cordeiro.Cordeiro experienced a dramatic moment in Olympic history when he was knocked over by a religious protester when he was leading with just six kilometres to go until the finish line at Athens 2004.

Cordeiro managed to get up again and recovered to end the race in third place, rewarded with the Pierre de Coubertin medal for his Olympic spirit. Another moment of great excitement in the torch relay was when 12-year-old Syrian refugee, Hanan Daqqah, carried the torch.

The young girl lives with her family in the city of Sao Paulo and was chosen in a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the world's refugees. The beginning of the relay was not without acts of protests and support as the people involved took advantage of the relay's international visibility to show banners against and in favour of Brazil's President Rousseff.

The president is facing an eventual impeachment process against her. Currently the case is being analysed by the Senate and if they decide to continue with the process, Rousseff could be removed from office for 180 days to allow for a thorough investigation.

A total of 141 people will carried the Olympic torch a distance of 108 km through Brasilia on a route that included the Juscelino Kubitschek bridge, Lake Paranoa, the Mane Garrincha Stadium, the Claudio Coutinho water-sports complex and the National Park.

At the Olympic torch-lighting ceremony in Greece last month, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said the flame was an eternal reminder that 'we are all part of the same humanity'.

And the Rio 2016 torch reinforces that theory, perhaps more than any Olympic flame before it. Predominantly white with blue and green waves inset in its upper half, the torch started its Brazil journey in the capital Brasilia yesterday before traversing 300 cities across the country.

As the flame is passed between 12,000 runners, it will open out to reveal coloured segments that represent the diversity and vibrancy of South America's largest country. Made from recycled aluminium and resin with a satin finish, the torch weighs between 1 kilogram and 1.5kg and stands 69 centimetre tall when fully opened.

When lit, it expands into five segments with distinct colours, each representing unique features of Brazil, including its landscape, flora, fauna, people and culture.The golden upper section represents the sun, which shines year-round in most of the country's 27 states and territories.

Below it, the intense green represents Brazil's lush vegetation, particularly the Atlantic rainforest that decorates Rio's coastline. Further down are two blue sections that form waves as they open, reflecting the sea which is synonymous with Rio's landscape.

The final segments depict the ground, especially the undulating black and white pattern of Copacabana's famous sidewalk. Excellence, friendship and respect - the time-honoured values of the Olympic spirit - are represented by the torch's triangular shape. The torch's extending sections evoke the movements of athletes.

Apart from encapsulating Rio's diverse and spectacular natural landscape, the torch's various components that come together as one convey a sense of unity.The torch is embossed with the Rio 2016 logo and the Olympic rings, which recognise the five continents of the world.

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