'Mirror-effect' torch for Paralympics


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The Independent Online

A mirrored-effect torch to reflect the light of the Paralympic flame will be used in the London 2012 Paralympic torch relay.

Four separate flames will be lit for the torch relay in the run-up to the start of the Paralympics before coming together in a special ceremony at Stoke Mandeville, the spiritual home of the Paralympics on August 28.

The shiny finish to the aluminium alloy, which was developed for the aerospace and automotive industry, will serve a double purpose on the 24-hour relay starting on August 28.

With part of the relay taking place overnight, the colour of the mirrored-finish has also been designed to adapt to its surroundings and shine brightly in the darkness.

It should mean that the teams of torchbearers, set to carry it from Stoke Mandeville to the Olympic Stadium to the August 29 opening ceremony, will not be lost in the darkness.

More than 3,500 people have been nominated to carry the Paralympic flame.

Officials are now whittling them down to the 580 torchbearers, who will work in teams of five. Names are still to be announced.

London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said: "With six months to go until the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, we are on track to deliver a great Games that will showcase some of the most inspirational athletes from around the world.

"The Paralympic torch relay will provide the perfect start by involving people from across the UK in events celebrating the flame and help the ignite passion for the Paralympics."

The first flame will be lit in London on August 24, followed by lightings in Belfast a day later, Edinburgh on August 26 and Cardiff on August 27.

Different ways have been promised for people to spark the separate flames.

This is in contrast to the custom of lighting the Olympic flame, which is traditionally said to be by the sparks of the sun.

All four flames will then go on whirlwind tours of community groups in each city before being combined into a single Paralympic flame at Stoke Mandeville, the home of the Paralympics.

In total 33 communities across the UK will host special flame celebrations over the August Bank Holiday weekend, London 2012 said.

The triangular shape of the torch symbolises the Agitos, the symbol of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).

The three swooping Agitos signs close in towards a central point to emphasise the role the IPC plays in bringing athletes from all parts of the world together to compete. Picking up on this theme the three sides of the Paralympic torch encircle the Paralympic flame, London 2012 said.

IPC president Sir Philip Craven said: "I am delighted with the plans for the Paralympic torch relay as Locog (the London 2012 organisers) and the IPC have worked closely to develop a concept that will not only capture the attention of the whole country but also act as a blueprint for organising committees of future Games.

"I think it is brilliant that the actual Paralympic flame, that will be used to light the cauldron in the opening ceremony on August 29, will be created at Stoke Mandeville, a place steeped in Paralympic history.

"The Games are coming home in six months' time and it is only right that we celebrate the significance of Stoke Mandeville, the Paralympic movement's birthplace."

The torch was created by London-based designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby who say it was driven by a desire to reflect modernity and innovation.

Being made from an aluminium alloy, it is light while having good strength and excellent heat resistance. Thousands of round perforations, made using cutting-edge laser technology, 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.

Baroness Grey Thompson, an 11-time Paralympic athletics champion, said: "The unveiling of the Paralympic torch is an important part of the London 2012 Paralympic torch relay, as it will become the symbol that everyone recognises.

"With six months to go until the start of the Paralympic Games, I hope this will help build on the growing excitement and inspire the teams that are in line to carry the flame from Stoke Mandeville to London."