ONE of Bolton’s unsung sporting heroes has taken centre stage at both the Paralympic Games torch relay and opening ceremony.

Tony Griffin, a former double gold medallist, was chosen to represent England to light the Paralympic cauldron in the final leg of the torch relay in Stoke Mandeville on Tuesday.

But Mr Griffin’s starring role in the Paralympics did not end there, as he also took part in the spectacular opening ceremony in London last night.

The 52-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, performed in an aerial display in front of the 62,000 strong-crowd with Aerobility — a charity which trains disabled people to become pilots.

The show, called Enlightenment, also starred former Bolton School pupil Sir Ian McKellen .

Directors of the ceremony said the extravaganza empowered disabled performers and athletes, while also challenging the perception of disabled people.

Last night’s event signalled the start of 11 days of competition by nearly 4,300 athletes from 166 countries.

Mr Griffin, from Great Lever, described his role in the opening ceremony as the “pinnacle” of his sporting career.

Johnny Aherne, Mr Griffin’s close friend, also attended the torch relay in Stoke Mandeville.

He said: “The atmosphere really was electric down there and it was fantastic for Tony to represent both Bolton and England in the opening of the Games. It was wonderful for him and for us.”

Mr Griffin went to his first Paralympics in France at the age of 16 and travelled again with the British team to Holland in 1980.

Four years later, at the 1984 Paralympic Games in New York, he won two golds for javelin and the Indian club — and broke two world records as well. He still holds the world record throw of 50 metres in the Indian club — an event similar to the hammer throw.

Cllr Richard Silvester, of Horwich North East, nominated Mr Griffin to carry the torch.

He said: “I am very proud Bolton is being represented as a town by Tony.

“He is a Bolton Sports Ambassador and continues to promote the ideals of the Paralympic and Olympic philosophy to school children around the country.

“He is a great credit to the town and I am pleased that his achievements continue to be recognised.”