The Heritage Flame for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games was lit at Stoke Mandeville, U.K. on Monday.
As the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, Stoke Mandeville, a small village about 80km northwest of London, welcomed hundreds of guests to attend the Heritage Flame Lighting Ceremony.
British Paralympians Angie Malone and Aileen Neilson brought the Beijing 2022 Paralympic torches on their wheelchairs with Malone lighting the cauldron to spark the rainy night.
"I feel so honored and so proud," said Malone who was visiting Stoke Mandeville for the second time. "It's an absolute privilege to be here in Stoke Mandeville. The last time I was here was 40 years ago when I was 16 years old and the wheelchair sport here opened my eyes."
Malone injured her spine at 16 and was introduced to a variety of sports during rehabilitation. She tried wheelchair curling when she was 36 and took part in four Paralympic Winter Games since then.
"We had amazing memories, we had fantastic time at every Paralympic Games," said Malone.
After the 2008 Paralympics, Beijing will once again become the center stage of the Paralympic movement with the Winter Games set to be held from March 4 to 13.
"Your flame signals the arrival of historical games. Beijing is the first ever city to host both the summer and winter editions of the Paralympic Games," said Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee.
"I was fortunate to be in Beijing for the 2008 Games, and China set new standards for how Games could be delivered and create support structures to allow Para athletes to reach their full potentials," Parsons added.
A flame gathering ceremony will be held on March 2 at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, where sparks collected from eight places across the three competition zones will be joined by the flame ignited in Stoke Mandeville.
"This is a flame of courage, determination, inspiration and equality that will burn bright and light up the cold winter days. It will bring us health, joy and vitality. For persons with disabilities from all corners of the world, it will ignite the confidence and courage inside and light up the way ahead," said Zheng Zeguang, Chinese Ambassador to the U.K..
When 16 patients joined a wheelchair archery competition at Stoke Mandeville in 1948, Professor Ludwig Guttmann, who organized the event, firmly believed that competitive sports could not only boost their fitness, but "the most important is from the point of the social reintegration of the paralysed into society".
Since then, the Stoke Mandeville Games was held annually with more events and more participants.
12 years later, the Mandeville-originated Games was held abroad for the first time and was staged in the Olympic venue immediately after the Olympic Games. The 1960 Games in Rome was thus recognized as the first Paralympic Games.