London 2012: Hackney group to take part in Paralympic torch relay

A group of people from Hackney who coach sport to aspiring disabled children and adults will be taking part in the Paralympic torch relay.

Details of the relay ahead of the Paralympic Games were announced today in Trafalgar Square, where the English flame will be lit on Friday, August 24.

Flames will also be lit in Belfast on August 25, Edinburgh on August 26 and Cardiff on August 27. The flames will be brought together for the Paralympic Flame Lighting Ceremony at Stoke Mandeville on August 28.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games today announced the first 332 people who have been chosen as Paralympic torchbearers.

Among them are a group from Hackney, who were nominated through the BT campaign for their passion, dedication and long term commitment to coaching a range of sports to people with disabilities.

Kayum Choudhury and Sharon Jones Barnes, both from Shoreditch, are two of the torchbearers.

Sharon only found out yesterday she will be carrying the torch, as was been competing in para-badminton at the Four Nations Championships in Nottingham this week.

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She said: “I couldn’t believe it, to be honest. I was shocked.

“This is history, not just for us but for London and for England.”

Kayum said: “I was asked if I wanted to be nominated, and I thought it was a once in a lifetime opportunity which gives me the chance to be involved in the Games.

“It’s fantastic to get involved and to be a positive role model.”

Both Sharon and Kayum teach a variety of sports, from badminton to Boccia to wheelchair basketball, and hope the Paralympics and the torch relay will inspire those with disabilities to take up sport.

Sharon said: “Let’s hope this will be a benchmark for those who have disabilities to get more involved.”

Including disabled people in sport has benefits beyond the sport itself, according to Kayum and Sharon.

Kayum said: “I think it builds self-esteem and confidence and helps with discipline. It’s giving that confidence through sport.

“It is also about seeing other people pushing themselves, which motivates you as well.”

Torchbearers for the Paralympic relay will carry the flame in groups of five.