Spectacular celebrations as legends light Paralympic flame
There were huge celebrations on Friday 2 September as the Paralympic Heritage Flame was lit by two Paralympian legends at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury.
The flame was ignited during a spectacular ceremony in the stadium watched by an audience 1500 people. Former wheelchair racer Baroness Grey-Thompson DBE and skier Kelly Gallagher MBE took centre stage at the glittering event, part of the build up to the Rio Paralympic Games.
Professional dancers and performers were joined by volunteers, to tell the story of The Seeds of Diversity - the growth of the Paralympic Games from its origins at the first Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948.
Thousands more joined in celebrations at Vale Park in Aylesbury, where the Flame arrived at the head of a parade and was passed hand to hand before Invictus Games participant Luke Delahunty used it to set off a stunning firework display and send the Flame on its way to Rio.
The Heritage Flame will join with five flames from parts of Brazil to create the Paralympic Flame which will officially open the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on 7 September. The Rio2016 Paralympic Games will include more than 1450 athletes from 161 countries.
There will be 528 medal events across 22 sports. Broadcasters from more than 100 countries will beam the pictures to an audience of four billion people.
Describing how “sport can inspire a better world for disabled people,” Tim Reddish OBE, President and Chairman of the British Paralympic Association said: “The Rio ParalympicsGB team is our largest overseas team. They will be our most competitive and it will be the most competitive Games. They will be proud to represent their country.”
The Paralympic Flame is “a powerful uniting force,” said Miguel Sagarra, member of the International Paralympic Committee: “It is hard to believe that just 68 years ago the seeds for the Paralympic Games, the Seeds of Diversity, were planted here by Sir Ludwig Guttmann. His vision to transform the lives of people with impairment through sport has since grown into something that today is widely regarded as the world’s number one event for driving social inclusion.”
Ambassador of Brazil to the UK His Excellency Eduardo dos Santos invited people to join Brazil Day, a celebration of the Paralympic Games in Trafalgar Square, on 10 September.
He said: “I pay tribute to the people from Stoke Mandeville who organised in 1948 the games that constitute the seed of the Paralympic movement. Brazil is very proud to host the fifteenth Paralympic Games, the first ever to take place in South America.”