BRAZIL’S HOMEGROWN TALENT: As tourists and sports fans continued to descend on Rio hotels following Friday night’s Olympics Opening Ceremony, Adriana Lima got a jump on the festivities Thursday night by carrying the Olympic torch.

The Brazilian-born model “even got choked up when she proudly held the torch before lighting a cauldron in Praça Mauá on Olympic Boulevard,” according to a spokeswoman for Lima. Growing up in Salvador, Bahia Brazil, Lima was only 13 when she signed up for the Ford Supermodel of the World Contest and wound up in second place. Three years later she was living in New York as an Elite model, modeling first for Anna Molinari before moving on to Guess, Anna Sui and Victoria’s Secret. As part of the Olympic torch relay, Lima was one of 12,000 who made their way from Greece to Rio.

“She flew both her mother and her aunt to [Rio to] be with her for the Olympics. It was a proud moment for not only her, but also her family,” Lima’s spokeswoman said. As a special correspondent for NBC Universal for the first half of the Games, Lima has been filming a few segments for Ryan Seacrest’s “Late Night Show” that will air on NBC throughout the Olympics. Her broadcasts will include beach activities, shopping, dining and a hike up to the Corcovado.

Her fellow Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen had an even higher-profile role, walking what was described as the world’s longest fashion runway to the sounds of “The Girl From Ipanema.” While Bündchen’s appearance drew the ire of some local critics — claiming she failed to represent the country’s multicultural heritage — the retired model clearly enjoyed the almost five-minute walk down the long runway, smiling broadly and blowing a kiss to the crowd at the end. She later was seen dancing enthusiastically to several of the rap stars who performed during the ceremony. She’s clearly having a good time — Bündchen was also seen dancing up a storm in the crowd during Wednesday’s pre-Olympics festivities.

The Brazilian Olympic team marched into Maracana Stadium wearing designs created by Rio-based Lenny Niemeyer, who has 19 stores in Brazil and exports to more than 12 countries. The team’s female athletes wore her vibrant green printed dresses with navy blazers, and the male athletes also wore the blazers with white button-down shirts and khakis. Niemeyer’s designs were meant to evoke the “carioca” lifestyle, meaning one who lives in Rio.

Neimeyer isn’t just known for her signature ready-to-wear and swimwear. She recently partnered with Best Western to help design its upscale Premier Barra resort, located on Rio’s Barra Beach. While not directly related to Brazil’s breakout architect Oscar Niemeyer, a forefather of Modernist architecture, the designer’s husband is his nephew.

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