Paralympic Games: Ex-boxer Michael Watson to carry torch

Former boxer Michael Watson
Image caption Michael Watson will carry the Paralympic flame in Trafalgar Square

Former boxer Michael Watson and Paralympian Dame Tanni Grey Thompson will be among the torchbearers taking part in the 24-hour Paralympic relay.

Watson, who suffered brain damage in a fight in 1991, will carry the flame in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday.

The relay travels from Stoke Mandeville - the spiritual home of the Paralympic Games - to London overnight on Tuesday.

Ahead of this, flame festivals will be held in London, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff across the weekend.

'Light a lantern'

On 28 August the four flames will be brought together in Stoke Mandeville where they will create the Paralympic flame, signalling the start of the relay.

Starting out from Stoke Mandeville Stadium at 20:00 BST, the Paralympic flame will be carried 92 miles by 580 torchbearers, working in teams of five, through Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and London to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

There it will be used to light the cauldron at the opening ceremony of the Games on the evening of 29 August.

Sites it will visit include:

  • The National Spinal Injuries Centre, Stoke Mandeville
  • Shree Swaminaryan Mandir Temple in Brent
  • Lord's Cricket Ground in St John's Wood, where it will be carried by five members of the UK's first blind women's cricket team
  • London Zoo
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Fleet Street, City of London
  • Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich
  • Canary Wharf
  • Stratford Park in Newham

Fomer boxer Watson, who suffered irreparable damage during a fight against Chris Eubank, will team up with wheelchair racer Dame Tanni, Paralympic swimmer Chris Holmes and sports coach Egidijus Bartkus for the stint in Trafalgar Square at 10:51 BST.

Deborah Hale, who works for Games organisers Locog and is producer of the torch relay, said: "We strived very hard to do something very different from the one that had gone before, to give it a unique voice and to try to reach as many people as possible in a much shorter window."

Urging the public to support the torchbearers on the route she said: "Come out and cheer on the torchbearers and light a lantern to light the way to the Paralympic Games."

Four national flames were kindled at the summit of the highest peaks in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales on Wednesday.

They will be taken to flame festivals which are being held in London on 24 August, and then on consecutive days in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

The first of four UK ceremonial cauldrons will be lit on the north terrace of London's Trafalgar Square, outside the National Gallery, on Friday morning

Former event rider Claire Lomas, who completed this year's London Marathon in 16 days, will light the cauldron using the English national flame which was kindled on Scafell Pike.

London Mayor Boris Johnson and Seb Coe, chair of London 2012, will be present at the ceremony along with scouts who were involved in hiking up the mountain to kindle the flame.

Before the cauldron lighting, the flame will be taken to the Royal Opera House, while later in the day it will also visit the Notting Hill Carnival and the Houses of Parliament before travelling on the Docklands Light Railway.

Outside Stormont in Belfast on Saturday, Paralympian and Disability Sport Northern Ireland Chair Angela Hendra will light a cauldron using the national flame kindled at the summit of Slieve Donard.

Rosie Smith, who was nominated by Scottish Disability Sport, will use the flame created at the top of the mountain which she has climbed, Ben Nevis, to light a cauldron on The Mound in Edinburgh on Sunday.

The final cauldron will be lit outside City Hall in Cardiff by Paralympian Simon Richardson on Monday.

Flame ambassadors from towns and cities across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will attend the ceremonies to light a lamp from the flame to take back to their communities for a flame celebration.

All four ceremonies, which are not public events, take place at about 08:00 BST and will be followed by large scale evening celebrations in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

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