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John Batchlor, 72, carries Paralympic flame in opening ceremony
MILLIONS of people were watching as a pensioner from York played his part in the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games.
John Batchlor was one of the final few to carry the Paralympic flame at the event on Wednesday, and said the experience was completely unforgettable.
The 72-year-old, who regularly takes part in sport and fundraising challenges, is now urging other people to keep as active as they can.
John, who lives at Alder House, York, has cerebral palsy, which affects his lower body and means he uses a wheelchair. But he has always enjoyed sport. He regularly swims, plays for First York Boccia, and has taken part in a number of wheelchair runs to help raise money for charity. He said he never imagined he would be taking part in the live televised event, which was watched by 11 million viewers.
“It was really lovely. I would love to do it again. If I had the chance to go to Rio, I would.
“It was brilliant. The atmosphere was incredible. It surprised me how many people were cheering on the disabled. I think it was better than the other ceremony.”
He recalled watching the Olympic flame being carried by Harvey Smith on horseback at Knavesmire, and saying how he would love to do it.
A friend who was with him that day worked for Sainsbury’s, and put his name forward to carry the flame for the company.
Support workers Laura Dowell and James Wanstall travelled with John to the ceremony to help him carry the flame. Laura said: “It was fantastic, absolutely fantastic.
“The atmosphere was just amazing. John had a constant smile on his face all the way round.” Thanking Laura and James for their help, John said: “I’m a bit tired, but it was worth every minute.”