Noguchi Named 1st Japanese To Carry Olympic Flame

Noguchi named 1st Japanese to carry Olympic flame

Olympic gold medalist Mizuki Noguchi will become the first Japanese runner of the torch relay for next year's Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Games' organizing committee announced on Monday that it has chosen Noguchi, the winner of the women's marathon at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

The torch will be lit at a ceremony in Olympia on March 12, starting a relay that will be held in Greece until March 19. A Greek person will be the first runner and will hand the torch over to Noguchi.

Noguchi says she is overwhelmed by being selected. She recalled that conditions for the 2004 marathon were difficult with temperatures around 35 degrees Celsius.

Three-time Olympic champions, judoka Tadahiro Nomura and wrestler Saori Yoshida will also take part in the relay. They will bring the flame to Japan on a special flight.

The flame is due to arrive in Miyagi Prefecture on March 20. The relay in Japan is scheduled to begin on March 26 in Fukushima Prefecture. Both prefectures were among the regions hardest hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.