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Paralympic hero Danny says it was an honour to bring flame to Essex
2:00pm Tuesday 28th August 2012 in News
PARALYMPIC hero Danny Crates was thrilled to be given the honour of bringing the Paralympic flame to Essex.
The sporting icon, who grew up in Corringham, lost his arm in a car crash in 1994, which put an end to his dreams of becoming a professional rugby player.
But it opened the door to a glittering Paralympic career, which saw him win a gold medal in the 800m at the 2004 Games in Athens – smashing a world record in the process.
The 39-year-old was at the forefront of the lighting of the Paralympic cauldron in Traf-algar Square on Friday, along with Prime Minister David Cameron and Olympic chief Lord Coe.
Danny then jumped on a train to Chelmsford where he ran past County Hall with the flame in front of crowds of cheering spectators, before handing it over to county councillor Stephen Castle .
The dad-of-two, who went to Gable Hall School, Corringham, and then Palmer’s College, in Grays, said: “It was a huge honour to be part of the team bringing the flame back to Essex. I’m an Essex boy at heart and to have it at home was an amazing feeling.
“This Paralympic Games is going to be the most successful we have ever had.
“Having the events in London has helped inspire a generation and I’m sure we’re going to see so many more disabled people who want to get into sport.”
Danny, who lives in Maldon with his wife Victoria and sons, Henry, five, and Albert, two, is also taking on his first major TV role during the Games, as he prepares to be a pundit for Channel 4, covering the athletics.
He added: “The thought of being on television for ten days is a bit daunting, but I’ve had training and it’s so exciting to be that much involved.
“Even though I’m too old to compete now, it’s going to be an amazing feeling being part of the Games. I’m sure we’re going to do amazingly well.”
The opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games will take place on Wednesday, at the Olympic Stadium, in Stratford.
A special celebration to mark the forthcoming Games also took place at King John School, Thundersley, on Saturday.
Mr Castle, Essex county councillor with responsibility for the 2012 Games, added: “It’s been an honour to be able to host a flame celebration and be part of the London 2012 Paralympic torch relay.”