With just under two weeks to go until the start of the Paralympic Games, a giant set of Agitos, the symbol for the Paralympic Games, has today been launched outside Cardiff City Hall.
This is the first of five sets of giant Paralympic Agitos to launch in the UK before the Paralympic Games begin on the 29th August.
The launch was attended by London 2012 Director of Paralympic Integration and nine time gold medallist Chris Holmes, Executive Director of Disability Sport Wales Jon Morgan and athletes from the Australian Paralympic team and Papua New Guinea Paralympic team who are currently staying at a Pre Games Training Camp in Cardiff.
Members of Wheelchair Basketball club Cardiff Celts, including Caroline Matthews who was part of the GB Wheelchair Basketball Team in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, also attended the event and took part in a sporting demonstration.
The 13m long, 8m high Agitos will provide a stunning backdrop for Cardiff’s celebrations on 22August for the Paralympic Torch Relay. The Agitos weigh one tonne and are made entirely of aluminium with a powder coat finish, with the recognisable red, blue and green colours. In total, 3 weeks were spent designing, engineering and fabricating the Rings.
London 2012 also recently revealed how the Welsh Flame will be created at the summit of Snowdon/ Yr Wyddfa as part of the London 2012 Paralympic Torch Relay. A group of young disabled and non-disabled Scouts from communities near to Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa will ascend the mountain and use a ferrocerium rod to create the sparks that will light the flame for Wales. The Flame will then be placed in a miner’s lantern and transferred to Cardiff where it will be the focus for a day of Paralympic celebrations.
Wales will continue to host some spectacular events up to the end of the Paralympic Games as part of the London 2012 Festival, the 12-week UK-wide celebration bringing together leading artists from across the world with the very best from the UK. These include the free Paralympic Flame Festival celebration for the lighting of the National Flame at Cardiff’s Roald Dahl Plass (27 August); award-winning Argentinean choreographer and director Constanza Macras’ Branches: The Nature of Crisis, a new site-specific show inspired by the ancient Welsh stories of the Mabinogion taking place in the forests of Wepre Park in North Wales (5-15 September) and bandstands and outdoor performance spaces in eleven communities around Wales joining more than 500 others across the UK in coming alive with music for the Bandstand Marathon celebrating the last day of the Games (9 September). Thousands of people right across Wales have already joined in the London 2012 Festival since it began on 21 June.
Disability Sport Wales is committed to the development of disability sport, delivering over 1million grassroot opportunities in 2011/12, with over 300 community clubs and a volunteer workforce in excess of over 5000. In addition, its academy programme continually delivers talented athletes who go on achieve to a highest level in sport.
Seb Coe, LOCOG Chairman, said: “I’m thrilled that we are launching the first set of giant Agitos here in Cardiff. Wales has a great history of supporting both grassroot and elite disability sport and I am sure the Agitos will inspire and excite residents, spectators and athletes looking to play their part in the London 2012 Games. We are hugely excited about this incredible summer of sport continuing and welcoming athletes from around the world.”
**Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan said: **“I am so proud that Cardiff is the first place that the Agitos can be seen as Wales has a fantastic Paralympian history. For London 2012 Wales is sending 38 athletes, as part of ParalmypicsGB, to compete in the games and I have been privileged to meet some of them. Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to see some of the first Paralympics medals, and indeed strike a bronze medal, with Nathan Stephens when we visited the Royal Mint and know that he and all the athletes taking part in London 2012 will be striving to get one of those precious medals.”
**Cabinet Member for Sport, Leisure and Culture, Cllr Huw Thomas said: **“It is fantastic that Cardiff is the first of five locations across the UK to launch a giant Agitos, the symbol of the Paralympic Games.
“The city has an amazing sporting heritage and we are proud of how we support grass roots disability sports which has seen not only some great individual successes but some fantastic annual events such as the annual Wheelchair Sports Spectacular which provides access to disability sport for more than 500 visitors per year.
“The Olympic Rings outside City Hall proved to be a big draw for people in Cardiff and this excitement is now set to continue with the Agitos in the same position as people count down to the start of the 2012 Paralympic Games.”** **
Huw Lewis, the Welsh Government Minister with responsibility for Sport said: “While we have grown quite attached to the set of rings that sat so proudly outside Cardiff City Hall, I am sure that the Welsh public will draw just as much excitement and inspiration from the Paralympic Agitos which replace them today. We have always punched above our weight at the Paralympic Games and this has much to do with the support provided to grow disability sport in Wales and the passion and enthusiasm of the athletes, coaches, teachers and spectators, who will, I’m sure, draw further passion from this iconic display.”
**Jon Morgan, Executive Director, Disability Sport Wales said: **“For a nation that is so passionate and proud of its commitment to Paralympic and disability sport, it is an absolute privilege for our capital city to be hosting the symbol of the International Paralympic Committee - the Agitos. The eyes of the nation will be on London 2012 with 38 athletes from Wales selected to represent ParalympicsGB and with 14 Paralympic nations training in Wales ahead of the games, it is fitting that the Agitos are coming to Cardiff.”
Carlee Beattie, silver medalist in the long jump at the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships said: “It’s really exciting to see the giant Agitos up in Cardiff. The Paralympic Games are now just around the corner and I can’t wait to get to London and compete for Australia.”
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The Paralympic symbol
The Paralympic Symbol (three Agitos) consists of three elements in red, blue and green - the three colours that are most widely represented in national flags around the world. The three Agitos (from the Latin meaning “I move”) encircling a central point symbolize motion, emphasize the role of the Paralympic Movement in bringing athletes together from all corners of the world to compete.
The symbol also reflects the Paralympic Motto, “Spirit in Motion,” representing the strong will of every Paralympian. The Paralympic Symbol also emphasizes the fact that Paralympic athletes are constantly inspiring and exciting the world with their performances: always moving forward and never giving up. The current Paralympic symbol, launched at the Closing Ceremony of the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.
London 2012 Games partners:
The Worldwide Olympic Partners who support the London 2012 Olympic Games and the National Olympic Committees around the world are Coca-Cola, Acer, Atos, Dow, GE, McDonald’s, Omega, Panasonic, Procter and Gamble, Samsung and Visa.
LOCOG has seven domestic Tier One Partners - adidas, BMW, BP, British Airways, BT, EDF and Lloyds TSB. There are seven domestic Tier Two Supporters - Adecco, ArcelorMittal, Cadbury, Cisco, Deloitte, Thomas Cook and UPS. There are now twenty-eight domestic Tier Three Suppliers and Providers - Aggreko, Airwave, Atkins, Boston Consulting Group, CBS Outdoor, Crystal CG, Eurostar, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP, G4S, GSK, Gymnova, Heathrow Airport, Heineken UK, Holiday Inn, John Lewis, McCann Worldgroup, Mondo, NATURE VALLEY, Next, Nielsen, Populous, Rapiscan Systems, Rio Tinto, Technogym, Thames Water, Ticketmaster, Trebor and Westfield.
There is one domestic Tier One Paralympic Games-only Partner, Sainsbury’s and two domestic Tier Three Paralympic Games-only Suppliers, Otto Bock and Panasonic. The London 2012 Paralympic Games also acknowledges the support of the National Lottery.
Images of the Agitos in Cardiff can be downloaded from **here **from 12pm