August 30 2004
SOS child takes part in Closing Ceremony at the Olympic Games
29/08/2004 - On Sunday 29 August, millions of people around the world watched the XXVIII Olympiad draw to a close in spectacular fashion. Among the participants at the ceremony, held in the Olympic Stadium in Athens, was ten year old Fotini, one of the children from nearby SOS Children's Village Vari.
The Olympic Commitee and the Artistic Director of the opening and closing ceremonies, Mr. Dimitris Papaioannou, decided to mark the closing ceremony with the presence of a child from SOS Children's Villages Greece, and Fotini, whose name means 'flame' was chosen to undertake the important task of extinguishing the Olympic flame.
Wearing a flowing white dress, she was accompanied up to the Olympic torch by two Greek athletes, where she lit a small torch and then blew out the flame marking the end of the games in Athens. She then passed on the flame to a young Chinese girl, representing the Olympics' next journey to Beijing, host of the 2008 summer Olympic Games.
Fotini, who has been living with her SOS brothers and sisters in the children's village in Vari since October 2001, has become a national hero, giving interviews to all the major newspapers and television channels. She said of her role in the ceremony,
"I had no idea which part I was chosen for, but later they told me that I was going to be the girl with the flame. My coordinator told me that I would go up the stairs with two athletes. I didn't know who these athletes would be, but I hoped it would be Pyrros Dimas, who I admire very much. We went up the stairs together, and I gave them a small torch which they lit from the altar. Then I handed the flame to the other children to light their torches and they spread light all over the stadium. At the right moment, I turned, heard a musical sound and blew out the Olympic Flame".
Prior to the start of the games, four other children from SOS Children's Villages Greece took part in the torch relay, carrying the flame on its journey to Athens. SOS Children's Villages Greece further benefited from the Games thanks to its national basketball team and silver medal-winning women's water polo team, which both donated money to the organisation for every goal they scored.
It was a great honour for SOS Children's Villages to have been invited to take part in the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, and no doubt an experience that Fotini will never forget.