WEYMOUTH and Portland are going for gold once again as the Paralympic Games kick off today.

Tonight the Paralympic opening ceremony will be screened at the Pavilion Ocean Room and a whole host of cultural events will welcome the Games to the borough.

Portland Harbour will host the sailing events from September 1-6 and the borough’s contenders will be hoping to become the first British athletes to win sailing medals at the Paralympics.

John Robertson , Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas have more than a decade’s experience together to the Sonar three person keelboat class, while quadruple World Champions Alex Rickham and Niki Birrell are looking to achieve the only medal that has eluded them in the Skud-18 two-person keelboat.

Helena Lucas will be the only woman racing in the 2.4mR single-handed keelboat class.

To celebrate a giant sculpture of the Paralympic symbol of a lion’s head, the Agitos, meaning I move, and words ‘Paralympics GB’ has been created by sand sculptor Mark Anderson on Weymouth Beach.

Mr Anderson, who also creates works at Weymouth’s SandWorld attraction, said he was very proud to be involved in the Games and had wanted to create a striking image.

He said: “It definitely makes me proud to be involved with the Paralympics.

“It’s a real privilege to be involved in this and the other Olympic sculptures we have done.”

Mr Anderson was also involved in creating a giant sand castle for the 100 days to go to the Olympics and created several sculptures at Horse Guards Parade in London for the summer’s events.

The Jelleyman family from Wokingham stopped to admire the new sculpture.

Eddie Jelleyman said: “I’m looking forward to the Paralympics, it should be good.”

Adam, 14, said it made him ‘proud when he saw the athletes.’ Louis, 7, said: “I’m looking forward to watching the sailing.”

Ann Febrey and grandchildren Thomas, 6, and Lucy, 11, came down on the train from Frome, Somerset.

Mrs Febrey said: “It makes me exceptionally proud to be British, it’s absolutely wonderful. I think that the preparation for both the Olympics and Paralympics has been fantastic.”

Thomas said the sculpture was ‘clever’ and Lucy said the Paralympics made her ‘proud.’ The Paralympic events kick off tonight at Weymouth Pavilion ’s Ocean Room where the opening ceremony will be screened at 7.30pm.

Meanwhile, tonight at the ICCI360 Dome there will be a Samba band to represent the borough’s links to the Rio 2016 handover, film screenings as part of the Maritime Mix Cultural Olympiad by the Sea and a film by artist Sue Austin.

David Hotchkiss from the ICCI360 Dome said they would be hosting a range of cultural events and would also be showing coverage of the Paralympics both inside and outside the dome. He said that he thought that the Paralympics and Olympics had put Weymouth and Portland ‘on the map.’