The first woman in space, a 12-time Olympic medalist and a popular blogger are among the first 6,000 people to be announced as Sochi Olympic relay torch members.
Former cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, who first went into orbit 50 years ago, and legendary Olympic champion gymnast Alexei Nemov were among those chosen from more than 140,000 candidates.
There are still to be more than 8,000 torch bearers picked by the end of September. The relay will run from Oct. 7 to Feb. 7, the day of the opening ceremony.
Dubbed the longest relay in Winter Olympic history, it will span more than 40,000 miles across 83 Russian regions.
The fortunate 6,000 were selected on the following criteria: commitment to a healthy lifestyle and sports and the main Olympic values of friendship, respect and commitment to excellence.
Joining Tereshkova and Nemov among the 6,000 are three-time Olympic synchronized swimming champion Maria Kiseleva, Paralympic rowing bronze medalist Aleksey Chuvashev, Russian gymnastics coach Nadezhda Nabokova, cardiovascular surgeon Maksim Strakhov and Sergey Dolya, a “popular blogger,” according to the Sochi 2014 press release.
Notice none of those athletes are Winter Olympians. Sochi must be saving those stars for the final legs of the relay.
Some torchbearer stats:
* The youngest is 14. The oldest is 93.
* The most common last names are Ivanov, Petrov and Kuznetsov. The most common first names are Aleksandr, Sergey and Aleksey.
* Of the 6,000, 136 are from other countries, including the United States.