Lighting of Paralympic flames marks start of countdown to the Games


With only a matter of days left to go until the Paralympic Games kick off, visitors are already flocking down to the capital to book into London hotels and make the most of what has already been a tremendous summer of sport.

And now the countdown is officially on to the start of what looks set to be the most successful Paralympics ever, as this morning (August 22nd) four different groups of scouts climbed the four highest peaks in the UK to light flames and start the torch relay.

The teams, which include both able-bodied youngsters and those with disabilities, trekked up Scafell Pike in England, Northern Ireland's Slieve Donard, Snowdon in Wales and Scotland's Ben Nevis.

Having been lit by the sparks of colliding flint, the torches will now be placed in miners' lanterns and transferred to the UK's capital cities, where there will be celebrations over the Bank Holiday weekend.

"The lighting of the national flames is a real manifestation of the continuing excitement in this country for these games – both Olympic and Paralympic," ParalympicsGB's chief executive, Tim Hollingsworth, told the Guardian.

"It really shows the potential of these Games more than any other to really capture the imagination."

The flames will eventually unite on Tuesday at the home of the Paralympic movement in Stoke Mandeville, before the Games kick off the following day.

Speaking to the BBC, Lord Coe, chairman of Games organisers Locog, said that he believed the lighting of the flames would help spark excitement for the Paralympics.

"I think a lot of people are going to be taken by surprise when they see the quality of Paralympic sport," he added.

"Some were probably watching Olympic sport for the first time during those Games but when they see Paralympic sport for the first time they are going to be blown away by it."