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Winter Paralympic Games get under way in Vancouver


Mike Bushell carries the Paralympic flame

Veteran wheelchair curler Michael McCreadie carried the British flag at the opening ceremony as the 10th Winter Paralympics began in Vancouver.

Over 500 athletes from 44 countries will bid for medals in five events.

The GB team comprises 12 athletes - in curling and skiing - and McCreadie, 64 next week, takes part in his seventh Paralympics, with two as a coach.

"It's great to represent all the fans back home as well as all the other athletes," said the proud flag bearer.

Canada's Governor General Michaelle Jean declared the 10-day, five-sport Games open.

International Paralympic Committee president Sir Philip Craven noted that his IOC counterpart Jacques Rogge described the Winter Olympics, which closed 13 days ago in Vancouver as "excellent and very friendly".

Just follow your dreams, you have all done all you can to prepare

Olympic champion Amy Williams' message to Team GB

"I am confident the same adjectives will be applicable to these Paralympic Winter Games," said the five-time British Paralympian and IPC president.

Vancouver Organising Committee (Vanoc) chief executive John Furlong declared: "To the Paralympic athletes of the world, the best ever, may the days ahead be exhilarating.

"May this be the beginning of the time of your life."

The competition gets under way on Saturday in Vancouver for ice sledge hockey and wheelchair curling and at Whistler for alpine skiing, biathlon and cross-country skiing.

McCreadie is one of three curlers returning from the team that won Paralympic silver four years ago in Turin.

His team, and skier Sean Rose represent Britain's best chance of medals.

The curlers begin their round-robin series on Saturday against the hosts and defending champions Canada.

The final takes place on 20 March, the penultimate day of the Games.

Michael McCreadie's Paralympic curling guide

Cambridgeshire-based Rose, 38, will compete in all five Alpine skiing events but the downhill - his best event - is on Saturday.

Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams sent a message of support to the British team.

"I just want to wish you all the best of luck and I know you have all worked really hard to be there," said the skeleton athlete.

"Just follow your dreams, you have all done all you can to prepare. So take a deep breath at the start of your race and just enjoy it."

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see also
Team GB ready for Paralympics
11 Mar 10 |  Disability Sport

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