Framlingham: Devoted coach helps Paralympic flame on its way to opening ceremony

A DEVOTED Suffolk coach was among the privileged few who helped the Paralympic flame make its final journey to the capital.

Bill Cox coaches young and old alike at both the Framlingham Flyers Running Club and the Orwell Panthers Athletics Club for disabled athletes.

The semi-retired Woodbridge resident, who coaches with is wife, Jean, was chosen earlier this year to carry the flame for part of the way from Stoke Mandeville - the spiritual home of disabled sport - to east London.

The flame was created last night at a ceremony attended by head of the International Paralympic Committee, Sir Philip Craven, and London organising committee chief Sebastian Coe.

They were joined by Aldeburgh’s Eva Loeffler, whose father Ludwig Guttmann organised the first recognised sporting event for disabled athletes in 1948, giving birth to the Paralympic movement and the creation of the first official Games 12 years later.

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Speaking ahead of his flame carrying duties Mr Cox, who even turns his hand to rebuilding and repairing racing wheelchairs and was named Coach of the Year at the Suffolk Coastal Sports Awards in 2011, said: “When you coach able-bodied athletes who are motivated it is relatively easy, but when you coach disabled athletes you realise what a challenge you have.

“You get tremendous satisfaction from encouraging someone to do something simple like run once round the track.

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“I coach one girl with minor learning difficulties and in her last 400m race she stayed in her lane the whole time and she was so proud, and that’s the sort of thing that gives me the most pleasure.”

The flame was created out of four “national flames” that were kindled by scouts on the four highest peaks in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

After the lighting ceremony it began its 24 hour journey from the world-famous centre for spinal injuries, working its way through Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire before reaching the capital.

As with the Olympic torch relay, 580 of the country’s greatest servants and unsung heroes, including many of those who have championed disability sport, have the honour of carrying the flame.

The flame relay takes in each of the six host boroughs and features landmarks including Abbey Road, London Zoo and Tower Bridge before ending up at the opening ceremony of the Games tonight.

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