Paralympic Flame created in Stoke Mandeville

The London 2012 Paralympic Flame was created at Stoke Mandeville Stadium with a legendary lineup that included IPC President Sir Philip Craven. 28 Aug 2012
A picture of two person holding a torch

Torchbearers exchange the London 2012 Paralympic Flame outside Stoke Mandeville Spinal Unit on in Stoke Mandeville, the birthplace of the Paralympic Games.

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“It is a fitting tribute to Sir Ludwig Guttmann and Stoke Mandeville that when the Games return home to their birthplace they do so as a record-breaking event."

International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven was among the first five Torchbearers to carry the London 2012 Paralympic Flame after it was created at an emotional ceremony at Stoke Mandeville Stadium on Tuesday night (28 August).

Sir Philip was joined by four other legends of the Paralympics – Baroness Susan Masham of Ilton, Caz Walton, Sally Haynes and Jane Blackburn – after the four national flames were joined at the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement.

The Paralympic Flame then left on its 92-mile journey to the Olympic Stadium in a 24-hour torch relay that will involve 580 Torchbearers working in teams of five.

Sir Philip said: “Since 1948 the Stoke Mandeville Games have evolved into something quite spectacular.

“In 1952 they became an international competition featuring British and Dutch athletes and by 1960 the first Paralympic Games took place in Italy, Rome featuring 400 athletes from 23 countries,” he said.

“The Games have taken place every four years since Rome, enjoying exponential growth.

“It is a fitting tribute to Sir Ludwig Guttmann and Stoke Mandeville that when the Games return home to their birthplace they do so as a record-breaking event.

“A record number of athletes and countries will compete at London 2012, more tickets have been sold than any previous Games and TV pictures will be screened to more than 100 countries, the most ever.

“All the ingredients are here for the best ever Paralympic Games.”

A crowd of 3,000 was shown footage of Guttmann from the first Paralympic Games in 1948, when 14 servicemen and two servicewomen took part.

Eva Loeffler, the daughter of Guttmann and Mayor of the Paralympic Village, hailed the decision to create the Paralympic Flame at the site where the first Paralympic Games were staged.

She said: “My father had a vision to enable men and women with disabilities to achieve success through sport,” she said.

“Seventy years ago he said: ‘I dream of the day when disabled people take part in the Olympic Games.’ His dream has been realised this year.

“It is so right and fitting that Stoke Mandeville has been chosen as the starting line for the Paralympic torch relay for London 2012.”

LOCOG Chairman Seb Coe was also among those to address the crowd.

“We’re so excited to be on the eve of hosting the Paralympic Games,” Coe said.

“Because of the work of Ludwig Guttmann and Stoke Mandeville, many more people know about the Paralympic Games and the great sport we’ll all witness.”