Beijing: Buoyed by the success of the Beijing Olympics, China today kicked off two unique torch relays -- “Ancient China” and “Modern China” depicting diversity of the nation ahead of the 13th Paralympics opens here on September 6.
Chinese premier Wen Jiabao lit the Beijing Paralympic flame at the ancient Temple of Heaven here, kicking off the torch relay.
In front of the symbolic Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, deaf-mute flame collector Jiang Xintian lit the flame out of a concave, burnished mirror.
The flame was then handed to a girl in a wheelchair, before it lit a torch held by Liu Qi, president of the organising committee of the just concluded Beijing Olympic Games.
Liu passed the torch to Wen, who lit a cauldron and announced the beginning of the 9-day torch relay. The sacred flame will be sent to Xi’an in Northwest China and Shenzhen in the south, where the relay will be launched tomorrow and Saturday respectively, Xinhua news agency reported.
“The flame will symbolize over the next ten days the unique sporting spirit displayed by Paralympic athletes,” said Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, at the flame lighting ceremony.“This spirit overcomes many obstacles in the search of sporting excellence,” Craven said.