Hannah Cockroft helps light first-ever Paralympic Heritage Flame
London 2012 double gold medallist Hannah Cockroft helps light the first-ever Paralympic Heritage Flame
The first ever lighting of the Paralympic Heritage Flame took place in Stoke Mandeville on Friday to mark the start of the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi.
The flame was lit at Stoke Mandeville Stadium the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, and the first place the Paralympic Torch has been lit outside of a hosting country.
I am really excited, this is the first ever time it is going to happen
The ceremony saw London 2012 double gold medallist Hannah Cockroft provide the Heritage Flame’s spark inside a six-metre tall rotating sphere.
The Paralympic Torch and Cauldron was then lit by veteran of eight Paralympic Games Caz Waldron, before torchbearer Andy Barlow transferred the flame to Sochi.
Cockroft said she was thrilled to be taking part in the ceremony.
“I am really excited, this is the first ever time it is going to happen,” she said. “I am going to generate the first flame, that’s history in the making.
“Because this is the home of the Paralympics, we generate the flame here and send it to Sochi for the games.”
Barlow, 27, from Bolton, said he was honoured to be taking part in the event.
The former Army fusilier lost is foot after a landmine explosion in Afghanistan in 2006 and aims to ski for Great Britain in future Winter Paralympic Games.
“It’s an honour to be asked to do this,” he said. “It’s great and it’s great to be here. It will be a great display.
“We still need to do our bit for the UK and help Russia out as much as we can to make sure the Paralympics is as successful as London.”
And Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee added:
“Sochi is where the winter games are going to take place but this is where it all started.
“This commemorates where it all started and where it continued for a very long time.
“It’s just to say that without Stoke Mandeville there would be no Paralympic Games.”