Co Down Paralympian Kelly Gallagher helps launch 2016 games

 Kelly Gallagher (right) with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Deepa Shastri
Staff Reporter

COUNTY Down gold medal winning skier Kelly Gallagher was among a select number of athletes chosen to officially launch the 2016 Rio Paralympics in Stoke Mandeville last night (Friday, September 2).

The 31 year old  Alpine skier, who claimed Britain's first ever gold medal at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, Russia, was the athlete chosen to wheel the Heritage flame on stage in the climax of a spectacular ceremony held to commemorate the establishment of the games.

 Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson then lit the Olympic torch which will now be carried to Brazil ahead of Wednesday's opening in Rio.

Stoke Mandeville was the location for the first ever organised games for disabled people which took place to coincide with the London Olympics of 1948.

The idea of German born doctor Ludwig Guttmann who worked at the local hospital with spinal injury patients, the 1948 International Wheelchair Games were to be the forerunner of the Paralympics which are now one of the world's leading sporting events.

The official opening ceremony will take place in the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Last night's event was shown live on Channel 4 News.

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