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Monday, August 14, 2000
Olympic torch enters home state as Games countdown nears end

 ALBURY, Australia (AP) -- The Olympic flame has entered the home stretch of its marathon relay to Sydney's Olympic Stadium for the Sept. 15 opening ceremony.

 The torch relay crossed the Union Bridge that straddles the Murray River, the Victoria-New South Wales state border, to commence the 31-day countdown to the Sydney Games.

 Sandy Hollway, chief executive of the Sydney organizing committee, was among the initial torchbearers in the host state of New South Wales, carrying the flame in his home town of Albury late Monday.

 Rod McGeoch, who headed Sydney's successful bid for the Games in 1993, became one of the last people to carry the torch in Victoria when he joined the relay in Wodonga, on the southern bank of the Murray.

 The relay will traverse 290 cities and towns around New South Wales for the next month before arriving in Sydney for the final countdown.

 The arrival in Albury was behind schedule Monday after one of the vehicles in the relay support crew was involved in a minor accident due to heavy snowfall as it left the Victorian alps earlier in the day.

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