MEET Flame — the mascot for Bolton Games 2012, who will be carrying the torch for the borough’s own Olympic and Paralympic sporting festival.

Flame officially put the games on its marks by starting the countdown to the opening ceremony next Wednesday, which will include a mascot race.

Flame will run against Lofty the Lion, Max the Middlebrook Moose, the Blaze Bear representing the fire service, Scruffy the Squirrel from GreaterSport and Sharky from Sale Sharks.

Flame, aka Alison Kay, aged 18, said: “I am representing the games in Bolton, and of course I will win.

“I have been visiting primary schools and children are getting very excited.”

Bolton Games 2012, which was inspired by the London Olympics, is run by Bolton Lads and Girls Club. About 800 youngsters are expected to take part.

In the spirit of the Olympic Torch, a Bolton 2012 Games baton was also designed to act as a symbol of unity and friendship.

It has been created by the University of Bolton ’s Senior Technician, David Barnes, and was inspired by the university’s ceremonial mace and a weaving bobbin in recognition of Bolton’s heritage.

BLAGC chairman Dave Singleton said: “The Bolton Games 2012 deserve a mascot, and Flame has been very well received by the schools. The games are to celebrate what is happening in London here in Bolton, and are for our young people.”

Cllr Christopher Peacock, Bolton Council 's cabinet member for sport, said: “Having our own mascot and baton will spark their imagination and inspire them to get involved and hopefully build on the excitement of the Olympics.”

The Bolton 2012 Games will run from July 25 to August 30.

l Bolton already has a link to the official London 2012 Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville.

Their shiny faces are said to be made of two drops of steel from the same batch used by Lostock -based Watson Steel to create much of the Olympic park’s structures, including the Orbit tower and the main stadium.

The mascots were unveiled at Bolton Arena last year.