Tom Cruise did it in 2004; David Beckham got his chance in 2012. On April 21st 2016, it was Christian Hajj’s turn to take part in the Olympic Torch Relay.
Last year, Christian was a graduate student at Université Antonine when he received a scholarship to complete his Master’s studies at Peloponnese University in Athens, Greece. He enrolled in the Masters for Olympic Studies, Olympic Education, Organization and Management of Olympic Events. During his second semester over there, Professor Kostantinos Georgiadis, dean of the faculty, announced to his students that he was chosen to run 500m at the Torch Relay of the Rio Summer Olympics, taking place in Olympia, Athens on April 21st 2016. The Torch travels from hand to hand until it reaches the Panathenaic Stadium, with a ceremony to hand over the flame to the Organizing Committee of the Rio Olympic Games 2016. However, Prof. Georgiadis had a surprise for his students: he was taking all twenty of them with him on this journey, as he believed it would be much more memorable to share with them. Christian Hajj happened to be one of those students and there is no doubt that he was at the right place and at the right time!
And so the dean and his students went to Olympia on that day and started the run for the torch relay, until they reached 100m, when they were told by the organizers that only one runner should be completing the 500m run for the torch. Luckily for our Lebanese hero, Christian’s turn had already passed and he was able to capture it and keep it in his memory forever. Though he says it lasted for a mere three seconds, to him, it felt like a moment standing still. It was truly a dream come true.
Being exposed to millions of viewers around the world, for the most awaited sports event of the year, was by itself an exceptional opportunity, especially for someone as passionate about the Olympics , who is looking forward to take part in the organization comity upon his graduation. Christian says that it was also great to be in the same room with well-known figures, including the International Olympic Committee, the President of Greece and others.
This event opened many doors for the young athlete as he participated in the organization of two important events in Egypt, a world cup and a junior championship.
Today, he is hoping that his studies, which tackle both management and education, will prepare him to introduce the Olympics in Lebanon’s educational system and make it more accessible and popular.
As for his next dream on the list, well, it’s to one day work in the organizational team for the Olympics.Judging by his perseverance, and his apparent luck, we are pretty sure he’ll be checking this dream as well, one day, very soon!
By Rayane Nasreddine, Journalist Intern, UNILEB.