The Paralympic Flame will be appearing in Leeds this weekend ahead of the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games next week.
The symbol of the Games will be the star attraction at a free celebration event at the John Charles Centre for Sport from 12noon to 2pm on Saturday 25 August just days before the biggest showcase of disability sport ever seen begins in London next Wednesday (August 29).
The celebration event in Leeds, hosted by Leeds City Council and the Leeds Disability Sport Youth Panel, is open to disabled and non-disabled people of all ages and abilities and will involve more than 10 Paralympic sports being demonstrated and for anyone to try.
The Paralympic Flame began burning yesterday, when it was formally lit by disabled and non-disabled scouts at Scafell Pike in Cumbria along with others at Ben Nevis in Scotland, Snowdon in Wales and Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland.
From there the individual flames were placed in miners’ lanterns and will be transferred separately to London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast for celebration events in each nation’s capital. At the celebration event for the English flame in London’s Trafalgar Square on Friday, Yorkshire’s Flame Ambassador Evan Whitton aged eight from Silsden will be given the honour of collecting a special lantern containing a splinter of the flame.
Evan will then return to Yorkshire with the lantern on Friday afternoon, where it will be split into five further lanterns which will appear at celebrations in the region including the event in Leeds on Saturday.
The flames which will appear at 33 events happening across the UK before each national flame converges into one again at the spiritual home of the Paralympics Stoke Mandeville for the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay which begins at 8pm on Tuesday 22 August.
The relay will see 116 teams of five torchbearers carry the flame 92 miles over 24 hours before it reaches the Olympic Park in time for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games on Wednesday, where Leeds athletes will be looking to emulate the extraordinary success of their Team GB colleagues from the Olympics.
Leading the way for Leeds will be Rawdon resident David Stone MBE, who will be looking to repeat his stunning performances at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 where he won gold medals in both the road race and individual time trial cycling events.
On the track, Hannah Cockroft from Halifax who trains at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds may become one of the stars of the Games as the 20-year-old goes into the event as the current world record holder in four distances of wheelchair racing.
In the pool, City of Leeds swimmer Claire Cashmore will be carrying the Leeds hopes, looking to win medals in her third successive Paralympic Games after securing bronze in both Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.
The fourth Leeds representative competing will be Ali Jawad in the Paralympic powerlifting. The 23-year-old former world and European junior champion, who is originally from Lebanon, is based at the Team GB High Performance Centre at Leeds Metropolitan University.
All four are expected to be competing in front of capacity crowds as for the first time in the history of the Paralympics the event which runs from Wednesday 29 August to Sunday 9 September from is expected to be a sell-out with 2.5million tickets sold.
Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Ann Castle said:
“After the amazing success of the Olympic Games and the incredible performances of Team GB and our Yorkshire athletes, we are all looking forward to seeing more of the same with the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
“It would be great to see as many people as possible coming along to see the Paralympic Flame in Leeds, and the very best of luck to our Leeds athletes competing in the Games. We will all be watching and willing you on.”
For all those inspired by Team GB’s stunning performances at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Leeds City Council-managed leisure centres across the city are now offering a range of special offers. These include the chance to buy 12 sport and fitness activities for £20 in swimming, aqua aerobics, Bodyline gym sessions and fitness classes. There are also adult swimming lessons on offer priced at £20 for 12 sessions.
Young people are also catered for with £1 taster sessions available in swimming, water polo, gymnastics, tennis, synchronised swimming and diving. For full details of all the available offers visit www.leeds.gov.uk/sports/Pages/2012-Leeds-Summer-of-Sports-offers.aspx or call 0113 395 0001. Community parks in Leeds have also got into the Olympic spirit with temporary running tracks put in place in 19 areas across the city.
For details of Leeds’ involvement in the London 2012 Paralympic Games and Olympic Games, visit www.leedsgold.co.uk
Notes to editors:
The athletes from and based in Leeds will be competing in the London 2012 Paralympic Games on the following dates:
David Stone MBE
Road cycling: 5 Sept – men’s T1-2 time-trial, 8 Sept – men’s T1-2 road race
Wheelchair racing: 31 Aug - T34 women’s 100m, 4 & 6 Sept – women’s 200m
Swimming: 30 Aug - S9 100m women’s butterfly, 1 Sept - SB8 women’s 100m breaststroke & 6 Sept - SM9 women’s 200m individual medley
Powerlifting: 31 Aug - men’s 56kg
For more information on disability sport in Leeds visit www.leeds.gov.uk/disabilitysport or call Leeds City Council’s disability sports officer Ross Bibby on 0113 395 0159 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Yorkshire region’s activities around the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games are being co-ordinated by Yorkshire Gold which is supported by key stakeholders from across the region. For further information visit www.yorkshire-gold.com
For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472