Paralympic Games
7-18 September

Countdown to Heritage Flame begins

The ‘Heritage Flame’ will merge with the Brazilian Regional Flames in the lead up to the Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony. 02 Sep 2015
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Hannah Cockroft Stoke Mandeville

Hannah Cockroft creating the Heritage Flame at Stoke Mandeville in March 2014 to celebrate the start of the Winter Games in Sochi.

ⒸGetty Images
By British Paralympic Association

“The Heritage Flame at Stoke Mandeville is a tremendous celebration of its unique position as the birthplace of the Paralympic movement."

Tuesday (2 September) marks exactly one year to go before Stoke Mandeville, Great Britain, once again celebrates their position as the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement with an event to mark the lighting of the “Heritage Flame” for Rio 2016.

The flame will be created as part of a spectacular ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium held on 2 September 2016 – just five days before the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. The flame will then be “sent” virtually to Brazil, where it will merge with the Brazilian Regional Flames to create the Paralympic Flame. The Paralympic Flame will then run the relay and light the cauldron in the Olympic stadium during the Opening Ceremony.

Hundreds of invited guests, including Paralympians and representatives from community groups, will attend the special ceremony 68 years after the Movement’s founder Sir Ludwig Guttmann launched the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948.

Xavier Gonzalez, the Chief Executive of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said: “Stoke Mandeville is a very special place for the Paralympic Movement as this is where Sir Ludwig Guttmann created the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1948, the forerunner of the Paralympic Games as we know them (on Tuesday).

“I am delighted that in one year’s time, we will come together again in Stoke Mandeville to celebrate its significance for the Paralympic Movement by lighting the Paralympic Heritage Flame and sending it off to Brazil to form part of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Flame.”

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of the British Paralympic Association (BPA), added: “The Heritage Flame at Stoke Mandeville is a tremendous celebration of its unique position as the birthplace of the Paralympic movement. From its central role in the torch ceremony of the Paralympic Games at London 2012, through to Sochi 2014 and now to Rio and beyond, the Heritage Flame marks a special moment for athletes both former and current and we hope it will inspire those still to come.”

A steering group from the Bucks Legacy Board is already working with partners to ensure the event is memorable.

In February last year, the inaugural Heritage Flame was lit at Stoke Mandeville Stadium. The flame lighting ceremony celebrated the start of the Winter Games in Sochi and included a spectacular firework display after speeches and two specially made videos. It was the first time that a torch lighting element has taken place outside of the host nation.

Artistic director Bradley Hemmings, who was behind the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, choreographed the event. He teamed up with designer Jon Bausor to create an armillary sphere, from which Paralympic gold medallist Hannah Cockcroft created the flame.

Speaking on the night, Sir Philip Craven, President of the IPC, said: “From now on, and for all future Paralympic Games, Stoke Mandeville will always stage the first leg of the Paralympic Torch Relay.”

Before reaching Rio, the torch will be taken to various locations both in the local Buckinghamshire area and around Great Britain to inspire young people in particular.

Stoke Mandeville’s reputation will also receive a further boost this month when it hosts the Para-Badminton World Championships, which will host 235 athletes from 36 countries at Stoke Mandeville Stadium from 8-13 September.