Tokyo 2020 Special Torch Relay Class Held for Lower Secondary students from Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture

Quizzes, lessons and talks with guest Olympic and Paralympic athletes inspire students to learn more about the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay

A student from Watanoha Lower Secondary School smiles whilst attending the Special Torch Relay Class

Last week, Watanoha Lower Secondary School second year students from Ishinomaki city in Miyagi Prefecture had the opportunity to discover more about the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay with a special visit from guest athletes ­ Paralympian Aki Taguchi and Olympian Masako Chiba.

A series of quizzes were held, and a lecture followed where students learned about the history and significance of the Torch Relay sparking meaningful group discussions.

As part of Tokyo 2020 Education Programme, the aim of this Torch Relay class is to enable and encourage students to deepen their interest about the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Students answer Torch Relay questions such as: 'Where will the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Flame first touchdown in Japan? or 'How many days will the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay Japan?

I might even try to take part in it myself!

A student shows his Torch Relay Concept paper

Students who answered the quizzes correctly won the chance to hold the Tokyo 2020 Torch. One student said: "It's much heavier than I thought," while another said: "It's surprisingly light." Another student was particularly impressed by the cherry blossom motif of the Torch.

The four winning students were selected to come in front of the class and hold the Torch

Masaki Kamada, a student at Watanoha Lower Secondary School, said, "I've always been interested in the Olympics and Paralympics, but I didn't know very much about the Torch Relay. Now that I've got an interest in that too, I'll be able to view it in a different light. I might even try to take part in it myself!

Speaking about the Torch being partly produced from materials recycled after use in the construction of temporary accommodation units in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, Ouka Nakasato said, "I lived in temporary housing for a while too, so I was happy to see the torch being made of discarded materials from various places as an expression of the reconstruction of the area."

Inspiring students to achieve their personal best

Aki Taguchi and Masako Chiba gave messages of encouragement to the students based on their own experiences.

Japanese Paralympic athlete Aki Taguchi

Aki Taguchi who competed in Paralympic shooting at the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Paralympic Games, explained her story to the students:

"I was confined to a wheelchair after I suffered an illness at the age of 25, but thanks to a friend I discovered shooting and was able to compete at three editions of the Paralympic Games. When I was in second year lower secondary school student, I didn't have any particular dreams or ambitions."

"But even if you don't have any major goals right now, if you keep studying hard, listen to your teachers and parents, and try your best, then eventually you will be able to accomplish things. You might even get the opportunity to compete in the Olympics or Paralympics."

Japanese Paralympic athlete Aki Taguchi greets the lower secondary class students

Students learn about Torchbearers

Long-distance runner Masako Chiba, who placed fifth in the women's 10,000 metres at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games then addressed the students saying, "When I was your age, I didn't like myself very much. I had no self-confidence at all. But one day, I was invited to run in a long-distance relay race, and this became a turning point in my life."

"Sometimes even the smallest of things can have a major impact on your life. If anybody here wants to accomplish something in the future, I think you should be proactive and take part in the Torch Relay. You never know, it might just lead to all sorts of opportunities in the future."

Japanese Olympic athlete Masako Chiba talks to the Watanoha Lower Secondary school students whilst showing the Torch

Olympic Torchbearers

In another class session with the guest athletes, the students also had the chance to ponder what qualities are needed to become good Torchbearers.

Each of the students appeared to have given much thought to their answers and drew up a profile of the ideal type of person to act as a torchbearer.

"Kind and enthusiastic people who see their task through to the very end" and "people with a high degree of common sense who are fair and never give up."

"It would be fantastic if those people were to serve as torchbearers," both Aki Taguchi and Masako Chiba agreed.

A student smiles whilst inspecting and holding the Torch

One of the conditions for becoming a torchbearer is that applicants must be born on or before 1 April 2008. We very much hope that the special lesson served to deepen the interest of the students of Watanoha Lower Secondary School in the Olympic Torch Relay ­ and also get inspired with with the Tokyo 2020 Games, from which can play a significant part in their future personal growth.

Find out how to become an Olympic Torchbearer.