To mark the first anniversary since the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) today (29 August) announced that the UK will be involved in all future Paralympic Games Torch Relays starting as soon as next March, in recognition that Stoke Mandeville, in Buckinghamshire is the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement.
The announcement came on the same day IPC President Sir Philip Craven was at Stoke Mandeville to unveil a giant five metre high Agitos - the Paralympic Movement’s symbol - that has been permanently installed at Stoke Mandeville hospital to mark its role in the origins of the Paralympic Movement.
It was in 1948 that Sir Ludwig Guttmann, a German spinal injuries doctor, created the Stoke Mandeville Games, an event that was the forerunner for the Paralympic Games that were first held in Rome, Italy in 1960.
Next year the eleventh Paralympic Winter Games will take place in Sochi, Russia and thanks to today’s announcement Stoke Mandeville will become the first place in history to be involved in the Paralympic Torch Relay outside of the Games hosting country.
Sochi’s Paralympic Torch Relay will take place between 26 February and 7 March. It will visit 46 cities in all eight Russian Federal districts, as well as Stoke Mandeville – the only international component of the relay - and will involve over 1,500 torchbearers.
Over 10 days several cities in parallel will host a day long Flame Festival aiming to ignite sparks and thus symbolising the energy and support to the Paralympic Games and their athletes. All Flame Festivals will start with a flame lighting ceremony before torchbearers take it on a tour of the local area giving as many people as possible to see the flame and engage with it.
Each event will climax with a Flame Celebration, whereby the local community bid farewell to the flame before it heads to Sochi to merge with all other flames in a special ceremony on 5 March. This unification of the flames will create the official Paralympic Flame of the Sochi Paralympic Winter Games which will be used in a final relay before the Opening Ceremony on 7 March.
In the UK, the Sochi Flame Celebration will pilot what will happen in future Games. A Flame Lighting Ceremony will take place on 1 March at Stoke Mandeville Stadium, this will then visit several local landmarks before a Flame Celebration is held to send it on its way to Sochi.
Sir Philip Craven, IPC President said: “The Torch Relay is a significant event in the staging of every Paralympics and it is fitting that for each future edition of the Games we celebrate Stoke Mandeville’s rich history and proud heritage as the Paralympic Movement’s spiritual birthplace.
“By always hosting a leg of the Paralympic Torch Relay ahead of each Games we are ensuring that the role of Sir Ludwig Guttmann and Stoke Mandeville in helping to create the foundations for what is now one of the world’s biggest sporting events is communicated around the world and never forgotten.”
Tim Reddish, Chair of the British Paralympic Association, said: “At the London 2012 Paralympic Games, the whole nation showed what huge support there is for the Paralympic movement in this country and I’m sure some of that reflects the pride we feel that the birthplace of the Paralympic movement is acknowledged to be here at Stoke Mandeville. It is fitting therefore that this will be recognised in all future Paralympic Games through the Heritage Flame. Whilst the Sochi Flame celebrations here in the UK will be a pilot and therefore smaller in scale, we are all tremendously excited that this concept will be taking place in six months time and would like to thank the IPC, and the local partners here in Buckinghamshire for their enthusiasm and support for this project.”
Dmitry Chernyshenko, President and CEO of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, said: “The opportunity to include Stoke Mandeville in the Paralympic Torch Relay program adds an incredibly exciting start to the Sochi 2014 Relay. We can be proud that our Games will be the first one to take the torch from the very birthplace of the global Paralympic Movement.”
Councillor Carl Etholen, Chairperson of the Buckinghamshire Legacy Board, said “We are delighted that Sir Phillip Craven has been able to join us for the anniversary of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Here in Buckinghamshire we are extremely proud of the role played by Stoke Mandeville in the birth of the Paralympic movement and are honoured that the International Paralympic Committee has given Stoke Mandeville the opportunity to play a special role in Paralympic flame celebrations.”
In a day of Paralympic celebrations at Stoke Mandeville, Eva Loeffler, the daughter of Sir Ludwig Guttmann helped unveil a statue of her father produced by the Poppa Guttmann Trust. The statue, which is sited outside of the National Spinal Injuries Unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, will serve as an enduring tribute to the genius of a man to whom thousands owe their lives following a spinal cord injury. His initiation of The Stoke Mandeville Games on the first day of the 1948 Olympic Games in London demonstrated his vision and inspiration for parallel games.
Sir Phillip Craven visited a range of sporting activities at Stoke Mandeville Stadium accompanied by dignitaries from the British Paralympic Association and Buckinghamshire Councils, including a wheelchair basketball match featuring the Great Britain under 23 team, wheelchair archery featuring patients from Stoke Mandeville Hospital and tennis, cycling and athletics activities enjoyed by community groups. Other guests attending included multiple Paralympic gold medallist Sophie Christiansen fresh from winning three European Para-Dressage titles in Denmark last week. Guests were also able to learn about the future development plans for the stadium and community facilities which include improvements to the athletes’ accommodation, expansion of the sporting offer and development of a heritage, education and exhibition programme helping tell the story of Stoke Mandeville’s role in the birth and growth of the Paralympic movement.
Notes to the Editor:
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Torch Relay
The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Torch Relay will pass through all federal districts of the Russian Federation, visiting 46 Russian cities.
The Relay promises to be the most innovative in the history of the Paralympic Games. Each day, the Paralympic flame will be lit simultaneously in several cities of one of the Russian federal districts. The lighting the flame and the passing of the flame from one region to another will change each time. Each torch lighting ceremony will be unique: from the rays of the sun, a hammer and anvil, a Russian stove, and even from a spark of a volcano!
After the lighting ceremony in each city there will be a long welcoming celebration for the Paralympic Torch, and on 5 March, the eighth day of the relay there will be a unique ceremony of "unity" of the Paralympic flame from all regions in the central square in Sochi.
The design of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic torch was presented in Moscow on 14 January this year. It was developed by a team of famous Russian designers and engineers. The torch weighs about 1.8 kg and has a length of 95 cm, is blue and has a silver base. The concept of the urban Sochi 2014 Paralympic Torch cauldron replicates the concept of the torch and has been designed in an identical style. The height and width of the cauldrons are 130 cm and 60 cm respectively. The foundation is 110 cm. These cauldrons will be installed in all the cities along the route of the Sochi 2014 Relay.
The uniforms of the Paralympic Torch Relay participants are blue and white. The design retains the patchwork quilt concept. The colour scheme of the decoration symbolizes the harmony, commitment and energy of Paralympic athletes. On the back of jackets is the Paralympic Games agitos emblem (from the Latin agito - "I move"), with three colored arcs - red, blue and green - and the logos of the relay partners.
The relay will conclude at the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games at the "Fisht" Olympic Stadium on 7 March 2014.
All information about the Paralympic Torch Relay, including the selection of torchbearers, will be available on the special Sochi 2014 Paralympic Torch Relay website - torchrelay.sochi2014.com/Paralympic
The Presenting Partners for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch Relay
The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company is the largest producer in the world of non-alcoholic drinks products. It offers consumers more than 500 brands of carbonated and non-carbonated beverages. Along with the Coca-Cola brand, which is recognized as the most valuable in the world, the company's portfolio includes 15 brands, the value of which amounts to over one billion dollars.
Thanks to the largest distribution system in the world, consumers in more than 200 countries around the world enjoy Coca-Cola beverages. Every day, over 1.8 billion portions of the company's beverages are sold internationally.
Coca-Cola Russia is one of the biggest investors in the Russian economy. Coca-Cola's level of investment in Russia currently exceeds 3 billion dollars. Beverages with Coca-Cola registered trademarks are produced at 16 modern plants located on Russian territory from Saint Petersburg to Vladivostok (including plants of companies "Multon" and "Nidan").
Coca-Cola Russia, which is an amalgamation of the company Coca-Cola and its partner-bottling company Hellenic, provides employment for over 15,000 highly qualified staff.
Over the course of over 100 years, participation of Coca-Cola company in sports events across the world has been and continues to be an integral part of the Company's policy and an important element of the business.
For more detailed information about the company's activities, please visit the following websites: www.thecocacolacompany.com and www.cocacolarussia.ru
Ingosstrakh Insurance Company
Ingosstrakh Insurance Company operates both in the international and in the domestic markets since 1947. Over the recent years Ingosstrakh has turned into a large company, a universal insurer on the federal level and has become a leader in different kinds of insurance.
Today subdivisions of the company are located all over the country and operate in 328 places in Russian Federation.
Subsidiaries of Ingosstrakh, being parts of the INGO international group, operate in CIS and non-CIS countries. Branch offices of the insurer perform their business activity in Azerbaijan, in Kazakhstan, in the Ukraine, in India and in China. At present the clientele of the company consists of over 12 million individuals and over 400 thousand commercial operators and state corporations. Sound business standing of Ingosstrakh is confirmed by the international rating agency Standard & Poor’s and Russian rating agency Expert RA.
The history of Ingosstrakh is closely connected with supporting of sports. In 1980 the company was the general insurer of the XXII Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. Thirty years after Ingosstrakh has become a Partner – the official insurer of the XXII Winter Olympic Games and of the XI Paralympic Winter Games in 2014 in Sochi.
Ingosstrakh is a Partner of Russian Olympic and Paralympic committees (until 2016) and a Partner of Russian Olympic and Paralympic teams (in 2012, in 2014 and in 2016).
XI Paralympic Winter Games in 2014 are the first Paralympic Games in Russian modern history. Ingosstrakh supports XI Paralympic Winter Games, the most prestigious sporting event for disabled athletes. The mission of the Games is to give their participants an opportunity to inspire and to be admired in the whole world owing to their sport achievements.
It would be no exaggeration to say that the Paralympics are the triumph of fortitude, the true victory of willpower, strong character and self-confidence.
Ingosstrakh supports and praises those who are capable of doing something out-of-the-ordinary and who can inspire others be their own example.
OJSC "Russian Railways"
OJSC "Russian Railways Company" is one of the biggest transport companies in the world, with a network consisting of over 85,000 km of railway lines. Every year the company provides transit for a billion passengers and over 1.2 million tons of freight.
In February 2010, OJSC "Russian Railways Company" became a General Partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2014.
The company is implementing a range of important projects related to the construction new railways and stations in the region where the 2014 Games are going to be held, all of which are designed to ensure transit of construction material and equipment during the preparations for the Olympics, and to take competitors and spectators to the competition venues.
All the projects being carried out by OJSC "Russian Railways Company" are taking place at unique construction sites, and serve as examples of complex task-solution: they are being created taking account of "barrier-free environment" requirements, so that they can be used by people with disabilities, with the very latest technology and "green building" standards applied.
The infrastructure elements on which OJSC "Russian Railways Company" is working will form the main component of the legacy left by the Sochi 2014 Games. The new railway lines and stations will significantly improve passenger comfort on rail journeys, and the volume of passenger and freight transportation by rail will increase.