Hannah lights up winter paralympics

HANNAH COCKROFT with the Heritage Flame. Picture Richard Washbrooke
HANNAH COCKROFT with the Heritage Flame. Picture Richard Washbrooke

Halifax’s Paralympic double gold medallist Hannah Cockroft was at the heart of the Heritage Flame to mark today’s start of the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi.

She ignited the flame at a dazzling ceremony at the spiritual home of the games in Stoke Mandeville , Buckinghamshire, sat inside a six-metre tall rotating sphere.

The Paralympic Torch and Cauldron was then lit by veteran of eight Paralympic Games Caz Waldron, before torchbearer Andy Barlow transferred the flame to Sochi.

Hannah said she was thrilled to be taking part in the ceremony and generating the first flame.

“Because this is the home of the Paralympics, we generate the flame here and send it to Sochi for the games,” she said.

Hannah, of Mount Tabor, shot to stardom - and an MBE - after winning gold at London 2012 in the T34 100 metres and 200 metres and retaining her titles at the IPC Athletics World Championships.

Andy Barlow, of Bolton, a former Army fusilier lost his foot after a landmine explosion in Afghanistan in 2006 and aims to ski for Great Britain in future Winter Paralympic Games.

“It was an honour to be asked to do this,” he said.

“We still need to do our bit for the UK and help Russia out as much as we can to make sure the Paralympics is as successful as London.”

And Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee said: “Sochi is where the winter games are taking place but this is where it all started.

“Without Stoke Mandeville there would be no Paralympic Games.”