brazil girl from ipanema_00003810.jpg
The girl from Ipanema lights torch
01:49 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Helô Pinheiro, 71, in the 1960s was the inspiration for the song "The Girl from Ipanema"

Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen will portray her in the Rio opening ceremony

CNN  — 

Tall and tan and young and lovely, the girl from Ipanema goes running – this time with the Olympic torch.

Helô Pinheiro, 71, the woman who was immortalized by the 1960s bossa nova classic “The Girl from Ipanema,” returns to her old stomping ground as a torchbearer on the final day of the 2016 Summer Games torch relay.

“I feel so happy about this, so proud,” Pinheiro says, as she struts barefoot down Ipanema Beach. “It’s very exciting.”

Now a mother and grandmother of four, Pinheiro’s claim to fame was being the muse who inspired Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese poet Vinicius de Moraes to write the world-renowned tune when, at age 17, she shimmied her way down to the beach they frequented.

Pinheiro says she is looking forward to the Olympics and the “big party” that will erupt in her hometown.

“(Brazilians) have been more anxious than happy recently,” Pinheiro says. “I think the Olympics are the best thing that could have happened.”

In addition to running the relay, the iconic Girl from Ipanema will be a part of the Olympic opening ceremony. However, the role of Pinheiro will be played by Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen.

“She’s so beautiful and young,” Pinheiro says. “I would have loved to have seen her playing me in the (Maracanã) stadium, but I wasn’t invited.”

The song was named record of the year in 1965 and has been rerecorded and performed by dozens of artists including Madonna, Amy Winehouse and Frank Sinatra.

“Bossa nova is so romantic, it has such a good rhythm. It touches your heart and your mind,” Pinheiro says. “I think God put me in the right place at the right time, and everything happened after that.”