Sports groups prepare for 2012

SPORTS groups in Ipswich are on the starting blocks today as they prepare to celebrate the moment when responsibility for the next Paralympics is placed in Britain's hands.

SPORTS groups in Ipswich are on the starting blocks today as they prepare to celebrate the moment when responsibility for the next Paralympics is placed in Britain's hands.

The Paralympic flag will be handed over to the mayor of London on September 17 to mark the point at which the capital will officially become the host city for the 2012 Games.

To mark the day, Ipswich Borough Council and the Orwell Panthers Disability Athletics Club are trying to get 250 people together to run a relay of 2012 metres at Northgate Sports Centre.

They will also be handing out coloured balloons and t-shirts to everyone so they can form the Olympic rings and the Paralympic symbol in the middle of the athletics track.

Co-organiser Louise Pennell said the aim was to raise awareness of disabled sport and encourage future stars to take up events ahead of the 2012 Games.

She said: “The celebrations for the Paralympics tend to be quieter than the mainstream Games.

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“There are a few of us who work with disabled clubs so we want to get them noticed. We also want people who aren't doing sport to get involved.”

A star of the Beijing Olympics has also called on schools across the county to join in the party.

Sharon Hunt, Suffolk's bronze medallist in the equestrian eventing, said: “The Paralympic flag handover day is really exciting because it will be the first time that schools will have had the opportunity to join in the 2012 celebrations.”

London 2012 has created a website at paralympichandover.london2012.com to provide tools, resources and ideas to help schools with their celebrations.

The event at Northgate Sports Centre will take place on the athletics track at 6pm and is open to all ages and abilities.

Organisers ask that people wishing to take part call either the centre on 01473 433611 or Louise Pennell on 01473 825834 to give an idea of numbers on the day.

Does the Paralympic Games get enough publicity? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk