Torch Relay Stage 12: A multi-sport Day in the Pyrénées - Atlantiques. PARIS 2024

The torch brought together many people to celebrate this symbolic date in the countdown, from Biarritz to Pau. Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee, visited his home region to take part in a collective relay in a kayak and also on a surfboard as athletes and para-athletes shared the torch.

One hundred days to go until the start of the Paralympic Games. On its twelfth leg, the Olympic torch relay visited the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. From Biarritz to Pau, people came together to celebrate this symbolic date. One of the torchbearers was Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee

He wanted to be present in his home region. With one discipline after another, the relay was complete this time. In kayaking, on the white water course at the Stade d'Eaux Vives in Pau, and before that, a collective surfing relay in Biarritz. Surfing the waves is essential there. On Monday 20 May, many para-athletes and athletes took turns carrying the Olympic torch. 

The day ended with Ahmed Andaloussi, a para-triathlete. He lit the Olympic cauldron in front of the Palais Beaumont. The day before, on the 11th day of the relay, the torch had crossed the Pyrenees. This Monday, it ventured into this mix of mountains close to the sea.

On day 12, the torch visited the beaches and cliffs of the Basque coast. 'X'@Paris2024
On day 12, the torch visited the beaches and cliffs of the Basque coast. 'X'@Paris2024

Fadila Khattabi, the French Minister for the Elderly and Disabled, visited Orthez and then Pau to mark 100 days until the start of the Paralympic Games. This special occasion was also attended by Pascale Ribes, President of APF France Handicap, which promotes equality for disabled people. 

There were activities for children and adults, and the public were invited to take part and be protagonists. The idea is to raise awareness. People had the chance to be part of wheelchair tours and an immersive virtual reality disability simulation experience.

Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Pyrenees to the south, the Pyrénées-Atlantiques is a vast playground for professional and amateur athletes. After a twelve-day journey across the Mediterranean, the Olympic torch made its way along the beaches of the Basque coast. The Basque coast is characterised by its cliffs. At Saint-Jean-de-Luz, it crossed the bay in a trainera. 

These are the famous traditional rowing boats used for fishing in the region. Water sports were the focus of the day. In Bayonne, the Olympic torch was rowed along the Nive. It visited places such as the old fortified city,including the Château-Vieux. Sainte-Marie Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The torch also passed through the former capital of Béarn, Orthez, crossing the Pont Vieux bridge.

Nearly 140 torchbearers took part in this relay on the 12th day. It marked the symbolic date of 100 days before the Paralympic Games. Mathieu Lencauchez, President of the Anglet Badminton Club, opened the stage in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques near Biarritz. Several para-athletes carried the Olympic torch during the day. 

These included Nicolas Bachoffer, the former world para-triathlon champion, who has achieved great heights in competition and has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Maxime Cabanne, a member of the French para-surfing team, took part in the collective surfing relay. He was joined by Céline Rouillard, a medallist at the world para-surfing championships. Other celebrities also took part.

Bixente Lizarazu was the last person to carry the Olympic torch through his home town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Later in the day, former French handball international Jérôme Fernandez and chef Juan Arbelaez also joined in. Pau contributed with former judoka Émilie Andéol, tennis player Jérémy Chardy and former tennis player Guy Forget among the torchbearers. The day ended on a high note. Ahmed Andaloussi lit the Olympic cauldron.

Two collective relays on a special day. Biarritz has been the birthplace of French surfing since 1957. On Monday 20 May, the collective surfing relay captivated spectators. Captain Antoine Delpero and other prominent figures represented the country's surfing community. 

They embodied the strong values of the Olympic Games. A second collective relay, this time in kayaks, took place in Pau on the same day. The Olympic torch was carried along the whitewater course at the Stade d'Eaux Vives. This is a reference point for the kayak discipline. 

The Olympic torch was carried on a raft by Anne-Lise Bardet, bronze medallist in the single kayak slalom at the 2000 Sydney Games, followed by other canoes. Titouan Estanguet, who is already following in his father's footsteps, and Patrice Estanguet, brother of the three-time Olympic C1 champion, were the symbolic finishers of the collective relay.

The day after tomorrow, the Olympic torch relay will move to the Dordogne. It will set off from Bergerac and pass through Saint-Aulaye-Puymangou, Sarlat-la-Canéda, Nontron, Montignac-Lascaux and Agonac. It will end the day in Périgueux.

"What a thrill to see the Pyrénées-Atlantiques illuminated by the visit of the Olympic torch," said Tony Estanguet, President of the Paris 2024 Organising Committee. "To see it in my home town of Pau, on the white water course of the Stade d'Eaux Vives, with the collective canoe/kayak relay, is of course very special. I would like to thank all the inhabitants of the department for the welcome they have given the Olympic torch."

"There are still 67 days to go until the Olympic Games and exactly 100 days to go until the Paralympic Games. Together we are making the emotions and the energy more and more tangible!", he concluded.