The Heritage Paralympic Flame was lit on Friday (2 September) during a special Ceremony in Stoke Mandeville, Great Britain, the historical birthplace of the Paralympic Movement. The Heritage Flame will be combined with the five regional flames in Rio de Janeiro on 6 September ahead of the Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games on 7 September.
The Ceremony was attended by members of the Paralympic Movement including Tim Reddish OBE (Order of the British Empire), Chairman of the British Paralympic Committee; Miguel Sagarra, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Board Member; and his Excellency Eduardo dos Santos, Brazilian Ambassador to Great Britain.
“The history and origins of the Paralympic Movement must never be forgotten and that is why we’re so pleased that Stoke Mandeville will once again stage a leg of the Paralympic Torch Relay, marking the past, present and future of the Paralympic Movement in this country,” Sagarra said.
“This Flame will act as a powerful uniting force, bringing together the world’s best Para athletes for Latin America’s first Paralympic Games.”
The event saw the raising of the Paralympic flag alongside the flags of Brazil and Great Britain. The Ceremony followed a theme entitled 'the seeds of diversity' and was inspired by the story of the first Stoke Mandeville Games, imagining that in 1948 a seed was planted, which has now spread around the world. Many of the performers taking part in the ceremony also performed at the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony.
Tim Reddish OBE, Chairman of the British Paralympic Committee said: "It is our honour and privilege to light the Heritage Flame for just the second time, marking the [United Kingdom’s] UK's unique role in the history of the Paralympic Movement. Tonight's exciting and inspiring spectacle celebrates the values of courage, determination, equality and inspiration that have been at the heart of the Paralympic Movement since its beginnings."
One of the greatest ever Paralympians Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson who won 16 medals (11 gold, four silvers, one bronze) across five Paralympic Games was given the honour of lighting the Heritage Paralympic Torch and was thrilled by the experience:
"It was absolutely amazing to light the torch. The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games are going to be incredible. We'll see amazing sport. Stoke Mandeville is so important to the Paralympic Movement because this is where it all started. We're really proud of what London did and we're really proud to handover to Rio.
“My message to everyone in Brazil is thank you so much for having the Paralympic Games. This is your time, it's your Games. Enjoy it. Hopefully there is going to be a huge beach party and make the Rio Paralympics the best that they can be."
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on theCoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.