London 2012: Paralympic torch unveiled on landmark day
With six months to go to the start of the Paralympics, London 2012 organisers have revealed the design for the torch.
The torch has been given a mirrored finish so its colour adapts to its surroundings and also shines at night on the final stage of the torch relay.
Locog has also announced that 33 communities around the UK will stage flame celebrations during the relay.
Meanwhile it has been confirmed that the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh will open the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Olympics start on 27 July with the Paralympics getting under way on 29 August.
The Queen opened the 1976 Olympics in Montreal while the Duke performed the role on her behalf in Melbourne in 1956.
King George VI opened the last London Olympics in 1948 with his grandfather King Edward VII starting proceedings in the city 40 years earlier.
Paralympic flame lighting events are to be held on consecutive days in each of the UK's capital cities.
They start in London on 24 August with the four flames uniting at a special ceremony in Stoke Mandeville, home of the Paralympic movement, on 28 August.
The relay will then begin its 24-hour journey to London's opening ceremony.
London 2012 - One extraordinary year
The flame will be carried from the Stoke Mandeville Stadium by 580 torchbearers, working in teams of five, to the Olympic Stadium where the cauldron will be lit to herald the start of the Games on the evening of 29 August.
Dame Tanni-Grey Thompson revealed the torch on BBC Breakfast and said: "When the flame is lit it's very sparkly and it will pick up a lot of light It is also very light so it can be easily carried.
"Also what's different is how our flame is lit. We are currently working out different ways of doing it and the power of human endeavour will start it off.
"There's a huge amount of pressure on the athletes. We are in a really good place and it is going to be the best Paralympic Games we have ever seen. I think we do very well by having the Games afterwards and the uniqueness of our own torch relay is also important."Torch design
The torch was created by London-based designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who were also behind the Olympic torch. They said it was driven by a desire to reflect modernity and innovation.
It is made from an aluminium alloy - light while being strong and heat resistant.
Cutting-edge laser technology has been used to create thousands of round perforations which will help ensure that heat from the flame is quickly dissipated without being conducted down the handle.
The holes also make the torch lighter and give it a strong texture that is easy to grip.
The colour of the mirrored-finish should mean that the teams of torchbearers will not be lost in the darkness on the overnight stretch of the relay.
London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said: "With six months to go we are on track to deliver a great Games that will showcase some of the most inspirational athletes from around the world.
"The torch relay will provide the perfect start by involving people from across the UK in events celebrating the flame and help to ignite passion for the Paralympics."
Edinburgh on 26 August and Cardiff on 27 August will be the next two host cities before the four flames come together in Stoke Mandeville the following day, where they will be combined to create the London 2012 Paralympic Flame..
PARALYMPIC RELAY FACTS
- First torch relay - Seoul Olympics, 1988 with 111 disabled people among the 282 torchbearers
- The relay has been part of each Paralympics since then
- By Sydney 2000 there were 920 torchbearers and the flame was lit during an Aboriginal lighting ceremony
- In Salt Lake City 2002, Eric Weihenmeyer, the first blind man to climb Everest, carried the torch to the podium of the stadium
- For Athens 2004 the Paralympic Flame was lit in the Hephaestus Temple and 680 torchbearers took part
- Beijing 2008's flame was lit in the Temple of Heaven with 850 torchbearers carrying the torch along two routes, split between ancient and modern China
- Beijing's Paralympics in 2008 had 3,951 athletes from 146 countries
- Paralympics is short for Parallel Olympics
The English communities which have been chosen to host flame celebrations will send representatives to the opening event in London.
Once there they will each collect part of the flame in a lantern and transport it back to their home towns to be used at their individual events.
National representatives will attend the lighting ceremonies in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff and take part of the flame from their respective capital.
Flame celebrations will be staged in the following places:
ENGLAND North East: Beamish. North West: Manchester, Preston, Merseyside, Cheshire. East: Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire. East Midlands: Leicester. West Midlands: Hereford, Coventry, Trentham Lake, Cannock. South East: Horsham, Aylesbury. South West: Bath, Plymouth, Weymouth & Portland. Yorkshire: Leeds, York, Sheffield, Beverley, Huddersfield.
NORTHERN IRELAND Cookstown, Ballymena, Derry, Newry and Mourne, Carrickfergus.