Tibetan woman carries torch for third time in 18 years

Dawa Yangzom, a 32-year-old teacher at Tibet University, joined the other 155 torchbearers in the Olympic torch relay in Lhasa Saturday. It was the third time in her life to carry torch for important sports events.

She lit a flame at the foot of Mount Tangula to start the torch relay for the Beijing Asian Games in 1990 at the age of 14.

In 2004, she was chosen as a torchbearer for the Athens Olympics, and this year she was a torchbearer during the relay in Lhasa.

"I was so excited to learn that I would carry the torch for Beijing Olympics. I could hardly fall into sleep for several days," Dawa Yangzom said.

"I couldn't be prouder, knowing I am showing the rest of China and the world the very best of Tibet," she also told Saturday's China Daily.

She said she was thinking all the time about "how wonderful it would be to carry the torch for the Beijing Olympics".

As an ordinary student of a art school in Tibet, she had no idea about the Asian Games or the Olympics when she lit the torch 18 years ago.

"It wasn't until I attended the opening and closing ceremonies of the Asian Games that I realized how big a sports event it was," said the mother of a 7-year-old boy.

She said that she was probably selected to light the flame because of her sunny smile and classical Tibetan features.

But this experience introduced the sport world to her. "I have been interested in sport ever since, and always keep a close eye on big events like the Olympics," she said.

As a torchbearer, the ensuing publicity changed her life over the past decade, Dawa Yangzom said.

She managed to land acting roles in several TV series and films, most of them Tibet related.

Some people even consider her as an image ambassador for Tibet, she said.

"I've done lots of interviews with the media, especially since the completion of the Qinghai-Tibet railway," she said.

"People are becoming increasingly interested in Tibet, and many have told me that their first thoughts about the place came from me."

The 9.3-km torch relay started at 9:00 a.m. Saturday in Lhasa with 156 torchbearers, including 75 Tibetans.

"Through the relay, I hope people will see that Lhasa has returned to its normal days and they will visit here again," said Dawa Yangzom.

Copyright © 2008 Xinhua

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Xinhuanet.com – news.xinhuanet.com/english/ 2008-06/21/content_8411866.htm