Innsbruck, Austria, IYOGOC Press Release, Dec 21, 2011: With exactly one week to go until the start of the Youth Olympic Flame, Youth Olympic Torch Relay, the names of all 2012 Torchbearers – with the exception of the final runners who will carry the Torch into Bergisel Stadium at the Opening Ceremony on 13 January 2012 – have been confirmed by the Innsbruck 2012 Organising Committee. The group includes six Olympic champions with no fewer than 22 Olympic medals to their names. A total of 30 nations will be represented.
While the youngest participant is 9 year-old Verena Koren from Schwechat near Vienna, the oldest person to carry the Youth Olympic Torch will be Klaus Atzenhofer from the town of Murau in Styria. The 70-year-old is still a keen sportsman and takes part regularly in fun-runs and races.
Among the most famous Torchbearers to carry the Youth Olympic Flame are former ski stars Michaela Dorfmeister, Stephan Eberharter, Günther Mader, Fritz Strobl and Marc Girardelli, who together have won an incredible 11 medals at Olympic Games.
Other Olympic medallists taking part include former figure skating star Trixi Schuba; retired luge athlete Markus Prock; snowboard pro Benjamin Karl, together with retired snowboarders Marion Kreiner and Gitti Köck; the last Austrian athlete to win Bobsleigh gold at the Olympics, Ingo Appelt; and judoka Ludwig Paischer, the only Torchbearer to have won a medal at the Summer Olympics.
Joining them in carrying the Torch 150m each will be eleven Paralympic athletes, seven Special Olympics participants, six wheelchair-users and one blind runner – among them the two-time Austrian Disabled Female Athlete of the Year, skier Claudia Lösch, and 2011 Disabled Male Athlete of the Year, triathlete Martin Falch.
However, the Youth Olympic Torch Relay is also very much an international event and will feature Torchbearers from no fewer than 30 countries, including Chief Executive Officer for Sochi 2014, Dmitry Chernyshenko, and Prince Nikolai of Denmark.
Apart from Austria, the country with the largest number of participants is Poland (52), followed by Germany (48), Switzerland (33), Great Britain (25) and Slovenia (14). One of the warmest climes to be represented by at the Torch Relay for the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games is Cameroon!
All of the following countries have at least one person who will carry the Youth Olympic Flame: Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, China, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey.
On 27 December – the final day of the Virtual Torch Relay on Facebook – the Youth Olympic Torch Relay will start in Innsbruck, where it will return on 13 January 2012 to light the Youth Olympic Flame in Bergisel Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the 1st Winter Youth Olympic Games. The Flame was lit in Athens on 17 December before being brought to Innsbruck by airplane.