Torch Relay Stage 37: A refreshing day in Vichy. VILLE DE VICHY

The Olympic Torch Relay recharged its batteries in Vichy, an area famous for its water, its thermal baths and its historical heritage. From Le Mayet-de-Montagne to Vichy, more than 100 Torchbearers took it in turns to light up the area's emblematic sites.

Théo Curin, a para-swimmer and silver medallist at the 2017 World Championships in the 100m and 200m freestyle, lit the cauldron in Vichy. Activities for the public were organised from 15.30, with shows by the sponsors of the Olympic torch relay and musical and dance performances to entertain the crowds. 

The urban community of Vichy is a dynamic area and a popular destination. Famous for its water and its heritage, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its role in the development of spa culture in Europe in the 19th century. It is also an area where sport is well developed, with many competitions and training camps. Vichy has been chosen as a training centre for the Olympic Games in 42 sports. 

The route of the Torch Relay began in the small town of Le Mayet-de-Montagne. It then moved on to Saint-Yorre, renowned for its water, which has earned it the nickname of "the city that sparkles". After a stop at the covered market in Square Romon, a relay was held at Saint-Germain-des-Fossés, through which the Allier flows. 

The route then took in the hills and the Bourbonnaise mountains. The Torch then passed in front of a concert orchestra on its way to the Collège Saint-Joseph. The next stop was Vichy, from the CREPS sports excellence centre to the racecourse, across the Pont Jacques Chirac bridge over the Allier and then into the town centre to the Place de la Mairie. 

Heavy rain didn't stop the Torchbearers. VICHY COMMUNAUTE
Heavy rain didn't stop the Torchbearers. VICHY COMMUNAUTE

Activities were also organised by the municipalities to turn each relay into a moment of sharing, involving as many people as possible. This was the case in Saint-Germain-des-Fossés, where several musical groups livened up the passage of the Torch convoy. At Place Victor Hugo in Cusset, the crowds were treated to a show of hip-hop and freestyle football. 

In Vichy, there were many initiatives for the public. Young and old were invited to sporting and cultural activities in front of the CREPS. Along the route, children from the Lifetri association formed a guard of honour for the Olympic Torch. In the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville, several dance groups from the Art'dance school performed colourful and lively choreographies. 

During the day, 109 torchbearers carried the Torch. Among them were famous sportspeople, such as Vincent Jay, a French biathlete who won two Olympic medals at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver (a gold medal in the sprint, becoming the first French to win an Olympic title in this discipline, and a bronze medal in the pursuit). 

Another renowned Torchbearer was Julien Veysseyre, a member of the French Para-triathlon team, world champion in cross triathlon and also an ambassador for a company specialising in the manufacture of racing blades for people with lower limb amputations. 

Théo Curin kisses the Olympic Torch in a very touching moment. VILLE DE VICHY
Théo Curin kisses the Olympic Torch in a very touching moment. VILLE DE VICHY

The Torch was also carried by members of the public who are involved in local sport, such as Laurence Allard, the day's first torchbearer, who helps to run a basketball club, Alice Naux, who takes part in regional competitions, and Amélie Vernay, who competes in twirling. 

Those included 91-year-old Yves Carrey, the oldest member of the "Vichy Rando" rambling club, and Alain Dusang, the coach of the rugby Vichy Racing Club. A number of torchbearers committed to social causes also carried the Torch, such as Christelle Aujeamme, a sportswoman who works as a firefighter, and Paul-François L'Huilier, who runs a solidarity grocery. 

The last Torchbearer was Théo Curin, a model of resilience and abnegation. In 2017, he won a silver medal in freestyle Para-swimming at the World Championships in Mexico and became even more famous for his challenges, such as swimming across Lake Titicaca or completing the Santa Fe-Coronda water marathon. 

He was the first Para-athlete to complete this legendary 57-kilometre race, swimming for almost nine hours in the dangerous waters of Argentina. This man of many talents, who stops at nothing, had the honour of lighting the cauldron in Vichy at the end of the day.