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Queen Elizabeth To Open Paralympics

Paralympic Flame Lit Ahead Of Opening Ceremony
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Britain's Queen Elizabeth is expected to officially open the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London on the evening of August 29.

The Paralympics – which are for athletes with a physical disability, such as amputations or blindness – are held in the immediate aftermath of the Olympic Games, in the same host city.

The London Paralympics are set to include more than 4,200 athletes from 166 countries – a record number – competing in 20 sports, with the competition getting under way on August 30.

The Games are due to run through September 9.

The first Paralympic Games were held in Rome in 1960, but Britain is considered the “spiritual home” of the spectacle, as the first recognized sports competition for athletes with disabilities was held in 1948 in the English town of Stoke Mandeville, the site of a pioneering hospital for people with disabilities.

The Paralympic flame reached London on August 29 after an overnight relay from Stoke Mandeville. It was lit at Stoke Mandeville late on August 28 and carried almost 150 kilometers southeast by 116 teams of five people.

The flame traveled past some of London's most famous landmarks on August 29 before the opening ceremony, where it will be used to light the Paralympic cauldron.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, and AP