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  • 29 August 2013 00:00
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Stoke Mandeville becomes permanent home of the Paralympic Flame

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Stoke Mandeville will start every Paralympic Torch Relay from now on, it has been officially confirmed on the one year anniversary of the London 2012 Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony. 

The Flame will be lit at Stoke Mandeville Stadium as recognition that it is the birthplace of the Paralympic Movement.

The Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics next year will be a pilot of what will happen in future Games.

A Flame Lighting Ceremony will take place on March 1, 2014 at Stoke Mandeville Stadium before it then starts its road to the Russian city for the Winter Paralympics. 

The announcement means Stoke Mandeville will become the first place in history to be involved in the Paralympic Torch Relay outside of the Games hosting country.

"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,” said International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Sir Philip Craven. 

"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.”

The announcement came as a life size bronze statue of Paralympic Games founder Sir Ludwig Guttmann was unveiled outside Stoke Mandeville Hospital to help celebrate the one year anniversary of the London 2012.

Sir Ludwig "Poppa” Guttmann was a German neurologist who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 with his family just before the start of the Second World War.

Several years later, Sir Ludwig was asked by the British Government to found the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville Hospital to help World War Two veterans rehabilitating from spinal cord injuries.

In 1948, Sir Ludwig began to organise sporting competitions for the patients in what proved the precursor to the first Paralympic Games in Rome in 1960.

The statue commissioned by The Poppa Guttmann Trust stands outside the National Spinal Injuries Centre while the IPC Agitos logo from the London 2012 Paralympics has also been moved to the city.

Eva Loeffler, the daughter Sir Ludwig Guttman who served as the Mayor of the London 2012 Paralympic Village, said her father (who passed away in 1980) would have been proud to see how far the Games have come and how successful the event last year was. 

"My father would have been thrilled to see the combination of his dreams in the country which gave him refuge in 1939,” she said.

"He was always sure that the Paralympic Games would eventually be held in the same country as the Olympic Games but he was not alive to see the Games in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, which helped to put athletes with a disability on equal footing.”
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