Paralympic torch relay launched at the White House
August 6, 1996
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With a boost from President Clinton, the first-ever torch relay leading up to the Paralympic Games began Tuesday in Washington. More than 10,000 participants, using modes as diverse as horseback, horse and buggy, water-skis, and a lawn mower, will carry the torch on its 1,000-mile journey to Atlanta. (438K QuickTime movie)
"May this torch serve as an inspiration to all Americans," the president said, "to give their best in every endeavor ... and support the talents of all of our people. May that be the lasting legacy of the 1996 Paralympics."
The torch was lit Monday at the tomb of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta and flown to Washington for the start of the relay. (474K QuickTime movie) Paralympic swimmer Diane Straub handed the torch to Clinton on the White House lawn, who then passed it to Randy Snow, a former Paralympic gold medalist in tennis and current member of the U.S. Paralympic basketball team.
Andy Fleming, president of the Atlanta Paralympic Organizing Committee, called the Paralympics "the second half of this summer's great celebration of life and human achievement," after the just-completed Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta.
The Paralympic Games -- billed as the second-largest athletic event in the world -- involve athletes with physical impairments. The Games will conclude August 25.
Correspondent Claire Shipman contributed to this report.
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