South East Wales

London 2012: Cardiff in Paralympic torch relay event

Welsh Paralympians being welcomed home after the 2008 Beijing Games
Image caption Welsh Paralympians were responsible for a quarter of the gold medals won by Team GB in 2008

Wales will light its own flame as part of the torch relay celebrations ahead of next year's Paralympic Games.

Cardiff will light a torch and host a Flame Festival on 27 August, two days before the Games' official opening.

Flames will be lit in all four home nations, relayed to Stoke Mandeville, home of the Paralympic movement, and then on to the opening ceremony.

Cardiff council said it was "hugely exciting" and hoped its event would inspire future Paralympians.

More than 4,200 athletes, with a variety of disabilities, from 150 nations will take part in the London 2012 Paralympic Games, which will run from 29 August until 9 September.

Plans for the torch relay have been revealed by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog).

Cardiff's flame lighting and Flame Festival will follow those planned across next summer's August bank holiday weekend in London,Belfast and Edinburgh.

The flames will then be combined at Stoke Mandeville the following day, Tuesday, 28 August.

Eleven-time Paralympic gold medallist David Roberts, who hopes to compete in the 50, 100 and 400m freestyle events next year described the torch relay as "a fantastic idea".

"The Olympic flame and torch are something everyone knows and everybody wants to take part in. To have the Paralympic version is fantastic.

"To go to the four corners of the UK and to have four flames coming together in the birthplace of the Paralympics is so special."

Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman said the city's celebrations would showcase Wales' heritage and culture.

"Cardiff is committed to providing disability provision in many different sports and as part of the London 2012 Games legacy I hope this inspires future Paralympians from the city," he said.

The council's sport, leisure and culture spokesman, Nigel Howells, added: "These preparations allow the people of Cardiff the opportunity to be inspired and have an active involvement in what will be an international sporting spectacle."

'Proud Paralympian record'

Laura McAllister, chair of Sport Wales, which develops and promotes sport in Wales, commented: "It's important to us in Wales that the Paralympics is recognised so I'm delighted that the nation can be part of the celebrations."

Prof McAllister said Wales had a proud record of producing first-class competitors, with Welsh athletes responsible for a quarter of the gold medals won by Team GB at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008.

"The events will be a great opportunity to celebrate Wales' achievements and our athletes that will be lining up to compete in London," she added.

The Welsh Government said it was pleased to welcome the torch relay to Cardiff.

"The lighting of the flame and the Flame Festival should be an inspirational event for all concerned," said Housing Regeneration and Heritage Minister Huw Lewis.

"It provides a real opportunity for the people of Cardiff and Wales to get involved and be a part of sending the flame on its way to the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games."

Cardiff will host pre-games training camps for several Paralympic teams from South Africa, Australia and the Oceanic Islands as they make their preparations in the lead-up to London 2012.

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