Anna Korakaki: “I’ m Thrilled to Be the First Torchbearer of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay”

FILE - In this Aug. 9, 2016, file photo, Anna Korakaki, of Greece, displays her gold medal following the victory ceremony for the women's 25-meter pistol event at the Olympic Shooting Center at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

ATHENS – The Hellenic Olympic Committee announced that Olympic shooting champion Anna Korakaki will be the first torchbearer at the lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on March 12, 2020, in ancient Olympia.

“When I heard the news, I was thrilled,” Korakaki, who won two medals at the Rio Olympics, said in an interview with the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) released on Sunday. She also expressed her happiness that Katerina Stefanidi, a gold medallist at Rio 2016 in the pole vault, will carry the Olymphic flame at the Panathenaic Stadium on March 19 and will pass it on to the Tokyo 2020 team.

She spoke of her next goal, which is the European Championship. She also referred to her big dream, which is not to win a medal in Tokyo, but that her brother, Dionysis, qualifies at the Olympics.

As for the big event of the summer, Korakaki said she wants a medal and advised young children that will compete for the first time to enjoy the Games.

The full interview to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) follows:

– For the first time in history, a woman will carry the Olympic flame first. What does that mean to you?

– I think that this was the main issue. The fact that for the first time in history, a woman will carry the Olympic flame first. It was a bold decision by the Olympic Committee, because it broke the status quo. As we know it has been a male-dominated area. It was a very bold decision on their part and it is very honorable for me. It was a moving decision. When I heard the news. I was thrilled.

– This honor is of particular importance to you, as in addition to your achievement in Rio, you have had many successes in those four years.

– It was a great honour. I was also thrilled that Katerina Stefanidi will carry the Olympic flame at the Panathenaic Stadium on March 19 and will pass it on to the Tokyo 2020 team. Because Katerina is an excellent athlete. After the Rio Olympics, she had more successes in the World and European Championships and the Diamond league. She is a role model for many young people, so I was pleased with that choice.”

– A few days ago you won another medal in Germany. Did that help your psychology?

– Of course, it did. It is a reward. You can see that training goes well and as we approach the Olympics, you are feeling better, you are more optimistic.

– The next target is the European championship. A medal is always important, but is it also a test ahead of Tokyo?

– Exactly. This year, all the major events are equally important, but the big bet is Tokyo. So all the big events this year are a good preparation, if we can say so!

– Are you aiming at a medal in Tokyo?

– My first target is to be among the eight shortlisted. The finals are something different. We cannot predict what will happen.