Torch Relay Stage 30: The secrets of Réunion, the "Intense Island." GETTY IMAGES

The Olympic Torch has dropped anchor on the island of Réunion to continue the Ocean Relay in overseas France. The "Intense Island" put its best foot forward, starting with the breathtaking landscapes of the Plaine des Sables and Pointe Langevin.

A kaleidoscopic journey through lush panoramas worked its magic through Saint-Paul, Saint-Pierre, Saint-Benoît and Saint-Denis, the administrative centres of the four districts that make up the island. On Wednesday 12 June, around 100 runners passed on the Olympic torch, including the legendary handball player Daniel Narcisse, who ended the stage by lighting the cauldron in his home town of Saint-Denis. 

On its journey to the overseas territories, which add colour to France's unique tapestry, the Olympic torch will bring this great national event to as many French people as possible and take the preparations for the Games to the four corners of the world. 

On 7 June, the Olympic torch embarked on a great adventure that will last until 17 June and take it to five overseas territories in three of the world's five oceans. Last Sunday it reached French Guiana, in the Atlantic Ocean, and on Wednesday 12 June it lit up Réunion, in the Indian Ocean. French Polynesia will be the focus of attention on Thursday and the Torch will return to the Atlantic to visit Guadeloupe on 15 June and Martinique on 17 June. 

Travelling 9,500 kilometres from metropolitan France, the Olympic Torch spent an extraordinary day discovering the crown jewels of unique, boundless landscapes. It explored an unspoilt environment and highlighted the authentic character of an island with a remarkable art of coexistence. 

The Olympic Torch burned on the landing stage of the first settlement in Saint-Paul, which seems to float above the waves and is where the first explorers landed on Réunion. It continued on to Saint-Pierre, the starting point of the Diagonale des Fous ultra-marathon, which attracts runners from all over the world each year to take on this daring challenge. 

After passing Saint-Benoît, the Jean Allane stadium, Sainte-Suzanne and the Le Bocage inter-municipal white-water stadium, the Torch arrived in Saint-Denis, the largest city in Overseas France. It travelled along the Corniche, lined with historical monuments, colonial houses and museums, including the Artothèque and the Léon Dierx Museum, the oldest on the island. It endedday in the State Garden, created by the East India Company in 1773. 

The island's volcanic massifs and coasts make it a natural jewell. This stage was a golden opportunity to highlight  these remarkable sites, starting with the Plaine des Sables in Sainte-Rose. The "Pitons, cirques and remparts of Reunion Island" have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010. 

From Saint-Joseph, the Torch headed for Pointe Langevin, the southernmost point of the Relay. From Le Tampon, it passed by the Centre for Sports Resources, Expertise and Performance (CREPS) towards the Grands Kiosques car park, stopping at the Cité du Volcan, an international tourist, educational and scientific hub. 

Born in Saint-Pierre, Jackson Richardson is a star on Reunion Island. FRANCE OLYMPIQUE
Born in Saint-Pierre, Jackson Richardson is a star on Reunion Island. FRANCE OLYMPIQUE

As the first rays of sunlight broke through the night in Sainte-Rose, Mireille Faïn got things moving. The former water polo player swelled with pride as she held the Olympic torch aloft at 7 am. Now working as a primary school teacher, she remains as committed as ever through her work as a volunteer firefighter and her involvement with her local athletics club. 

The oldest member of the Réunion Athletics League, the 85-year-old Marie-Thérèse Georget, was in Saint-Denis, the last stop on this leg. Still running 12 kilometres a day with her club, she received a particularly loud ovation from the crowd. 

Alizée Morel also brought the crowd to its feet on Quai Gilbert in Saint-Paul. The flag bearer for the Réunion delegation to the 2023 Indian Ocean Island Games (JIOI) in Madagascar, she is the most decorated athlete across all sports and nations with 28 medals. Fans then admired Jérémy Basquaise, captain of the French beach soccer team, from the Boulevard du Front de Mer.   

Jackson Richardson, the former captain of the French handball team, a bronze medallist at Barcelona 1992 and a two-time world champion in 1995 and 2001, carried the torch in his home town of Saint-Pierre. Mathieu Bon, a three-time French U20 shot put and long jump champion, did it in Sainte-Suzanne, on the island's northern coast. The 19-year-old, who has Asperger's syndrome, was a source of inspiration for those around him. 

Reunion experienced an intense day of Olympic emotion. PARIS 2024
Reunion experienced an intense day of Olympic emotion. PARIS 2024

Over 120 relay runners took turns to light up the "Intense Island", including the French fencer Kelly Lusinier and Teddy Riner's caretaker, Myriam Chomaz. A brilliant champion from savate to boxing, she has fought hard to raise the profile of women's sport and promote disabled boxing. 

The stage closed with a flourish with Daniel Narcisse, one of France's most popular and successful athletes. A legendary handball player, he has won numerous medals with the French national team, including two Olympic gold medals, four World Championships and three European Championships.

The French Gymnastics Federation is linked to the entire nation, bringing together 325,000 passionate licence holders from 1,400 clubs in metropolitan France and overseas. It is a powerful unifying force.  A new gymnastics team relay took place on Réunion, an island known for its fertile ground for gymnasts. As part of the celebrations, spectators were treated to a variety of performances highlighting the Olympic gymnastics disciplines. 

23 people, including champions, daily warriors, volunteers and more, flanked the captain Elvire Teza. The former French national team champion was the first French woman to reach an Olympic final in artistic gymnastics. She also competed in Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000.