Four separate flames lit in Britain's four capital cities will come together at Stoke Mandeville before a 24-hour relay travelling 87 miles and involving 580 torchbearers will precede the Opening Ceremony. Also, find out more about Mandeville - the Paralympic official mascot - as well as the Paralympic emblem.
A new concept will be tried out at London 2012 with the Paralympic Torch Relay seeing four separate flames lit in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff on one-day intervals before all four torches come together for a special ceremony at Stoke Mandeville – the home of the Paralympics – to create the Paralympic Flame. Taking in the four capital cities of the countries that make up Great Britain, the six-day event will start with the lighting of the London Flame on 24th August, followed by the lighting of flames in Belfast (25th August), Edinburgh (26th August) and Cardiff (27th August). The special ceremony – the Stoke Mandeville Flame Festival – will take place on 28th August where the four flames will come together on the site of where Sir Ludwig Guttmann first tested out the Paralympic concept back in 1948. This will be followed by a 24-hour relay that will see the Paralympic Flame travel with the help of 580 lucky torchbearers to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford in time for the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony on 29th August.
The Torch Relay will travel through communities in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire before visiting a number of iconic London landmarks, including Piccadilly Circus, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street and Trafalgar Square, which will host the BT London Live site throughout the Games. The Flame will also cross the Thames on numerous occasions over some of London's most famous bridges including Lambeth Bridge, Waterloo Bridge and Tower Bridge, where the hanging Olympic rings will be replaced with the spectacular Paralympic 'Agitos' on display.
Believe it or not but Wenlock and Mandeville – the official mascots of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics – are animations depicting two drops of steel from a steelworks in Bolton, in the north west of England. The former gets his name from the Shropshire town of Much Wenlock, which held a mid-19th century forerunner of the current Olympic Games; the latter from Stoke Mandeville Hospital, the birthplace of the Stoke Mandeville Games that were born in 1848 as a precursor to the Paralympic Games.
Fictionally formed from the last girder of the Olympic Stadium, Wenlock and Mandeville have highly polished steel skin and are one-eyed creatures with their initial – W or M – encircled in the orange light of a London taxi on top of their heads. While public appearances initially saw positive feedback from children, one American critic said they were the product of a "drunken one-night stand between a Teletubby and a Dalek" in an article entitled 'Beyold the One-Eyed Compromise Monster'. The writer Michael Morpurgo, author of the hit book War Horse, wrote the story concept to the mascots, and life-size models of both Mascots can be seen all around London.
According to its designers, Mandeville (on the right in the picture) has a number of interesting features that reflect elements of the Paralympics and London. The three prongs on Mandeville's head represent the three parts of the Paralympic emblem (three 'agitos' coloured red, blue and green – the three colours that are most widely represented in national flags around the world). The 'M' light on Mandeville's forehead mirrors the London taxi light. Mandeville's one eye is actually a video camera that records everything that it sees. Finally, Mandeville's tail and hands are aerodynamic to represent "Spirit in Motion" – the Paralympic motto.
Just as the Olympics boasts the famous five Olympic Rings emblem, so too does the Paralympics have its own symbol: three 'Agitos' coloured red, blue, and green, encircling a single point on a white field. The colours of the Agitos (from the Latin verb 'agito' – I move) feature the three most widely represented colours of national flags around the world. The Paralympic emblem took a bow at the closing ceremony in Athens 2004 and was used actively for the first time at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Torino before making its Summer Games debut at Beijing 2008. London 2012 marks the first time that the same logo is being used for both the London Olympics and London Paralympics – the 'London 2012' emblem appearing in standard colours of green, magenta and blue. The Paralympic motto is "Spirit in Motion" and was introduced in 2004 at the Paralympic Games in Athens. The previous motto was "Mind, Body, Spirit", introduced in 1994.