Mother of Paralympian carried torch through London streets

THE mother of a teenage Paralympian carried the burning symbol of the games through the streets of London hours before the opening ceremony.

Jackie Bullen, of Shepreth, hoisted the torch aloft as she passed through Artillery Row, Westminster, yesterday morning (Wednesday) – a day before her partially sighted daughter, Georgina, launched her medal campaign.

Speaking before her leg, she told the Crow: “I’m very excited. The whole Paralympics seems to have come up on us, we have known for three years and suddenly it is here and I didn’t expect to be carrying the torch.

“I’m nervous about the logistics like getting there on time, and I have woken up in the middle of the night thinking what would happen if the flame goes out or if I fell over, but I’m just genuinely delighted and excited.

“I was anxious I would be running round the North Circular at 3am but now I have found out I’m running in Artillery Lane in Westminster in the morning before the opening ceremony.”

Mrs Bullen was selected to carry the torch in the 24-hour relay for her work in promoting her 18-year-old daughter’s sport, goalball.

The game began as rehabilitation for visually impaired World War Two veterans but has developed into an exciting sport that tests agility and instinct as all players wear black-out shades.

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Teams of three hurl a 1.25kg bell-filled ball towards the opponents’ goal with defenders blocking shots and then returning the ball.

Despite its relative obscurity, tickets for the goalball in the Copper Box have sold out and thousands of people will watch Georgina go for gold.

Mrs Bullen said: “I didn’t want to see 7,000 seats with just a couple of hundred spectators there, but we have been told it has sold out and people are still trying to get tickets.

“I would say it is mission accomplished but it would be lovely to see more coverage to give people the opportunity to see the sport.”

Georgina is already in London awaiting her first game and her mother acknowledges she has a tough task ahead of her as Team GB face China, Finland, Brazil and Denmark in their group.

“On their day they can win but they have some strong opposition,” said Mrs Bullen. “They have full-time athletes against them whereas they are poorly funded.

“We have seen them play extremely well against that level of opposition though so who knows what can happen if the home crowd get behind them?”