Paralympic Torch revealed 

10-day journey will start in Ottawa next March

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The 2010 Paralympic torch will start its historic journey in Ottawa next March.

In all about 600 torchbearers will be chosen to carry the steel blue torch as it makes its way across the country for the start of the Games on March 12.

Unlike the Olympic flame the Paralympic flame has no ancestral home so the host country has the freedom to choose how the celebration for the lighting takes place.

"The government of Canada is proud to present the Paralympic Torch Relay and we encourage all Canadians to follow the flame from the relay's start in Ottawa to its exciting homecoming in Vancouver," said Gary Lunn, federal Minister of State for Sport.

Details of how the 600 people will be chosen and the 10-day route will be revealed later in the year.

Saturday, July 11 will also see a celebration hosted by the Vancouver Organizing committee for the 2010 Games to mark International Paralympic Day in Whistler. The event in Village Square, from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., will showcase interactive Paralympic sport demonstrations and displays, Paralympic athletes, the Paralympic Torch and the 2010 mascot Sumi.

Look closely at the Paralympic Torch on display and you will see that it shows its own unique emblem - "Spark Becomes Flame." It shows a human figure with its arms raised and joined much like a candle's flame. Contained within the arms is the glow of a fire.

"We felt it was important for the Parlaympic Torch Relay to have its own emblem because of its special ability to shine its own light and reveal amazing stories of courage and perseverance in our communities and at the Games," John Furlong, VANOC's CEO, said in a statement.

"To honour the remarkable achievements of Paralympic athletes we are planning extraordinary relay events that will inspire and garner attention for the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games and the Paralympic Movement."

The one-metre-long torch, designed by Bombardier, has an ergonomic, curved and modern design and features the emblem of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, a red maple leaf air intake cut-out, and an engraving of the Games motto, "With Glowing Hearts/Des plus brillants exploits." It also has robust technology created by Bombardier's aerospace and transportation design teams to weather the extremes of the Canadian winter. The torch can be operated in temperatures ranging from -50 degrees to over 40 degrees, through rain, sleet, snow and wind.

The Paralympic Torchbearer uniform is also steel blue in colour and accented with bright bursts of blue and green on the jacket's left arm. The uniform, designed and produced by the Hudson's Bay Company, consists of a jacket, pullover pants, toque and knitted red mittens. The uniform is a commemorative keepsake for torchbearers.

The overall budget for both relays is $31 million, with the federal government contributing $12 million - $2 million of which will go to the Paralympics relay.

While sponsors Coca Cola and RBC also underwrite the Olympic relay, the Paralympic relay doesn't have any sponsors.

Since no Paralympic Games were held in Canada following the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics or the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, this will be the first Paralympic torch relay held in this country.

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