Paralympics welcomed home

Last night (August 29th) saw the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and the return of the movement to its founding home.

Widely regarded as the first Paralympic event, an archery competition held in 1948 in Stoke Manderville hospital in Buckinghamshire was the first to suggest a regular event for disabled athletes.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Seb Coe, chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee, said: "So we say welcome home to this great sporting competition. Welcome home to a movement that shows what sport is all about.

"To the athletes I say, you will hear us. The enthusiasm for these Paralympics is extraordinary. The crowds will be unprecedented. These will be Games to remember.

"Prepare to be inspired. Prepare to be dazzled. Prepare to be moved by the Paralympic Games of London 2012."

The ceremony was co-directed by Jenny Sealey and Bradley Hemmings and signals the start of the Paralympic Games and 11 days of competition. It is set to be the biggest Games ever and 4,200 athletes from 164 countries will be taking part.

Professor Stephen Hawking and actor Sir Ian McKellen played key roles in the ceremony and over 3,000 volunteers took part in the show which organisers want to celebrate "science and humanity".

The cauldron was lit by Britain's first Paralympic champion Margaret Maughan. She won gold at the first Games in Rome in 1960 in the archery competition. Like the cauldron used in the Olympic Games, this was designed by British artist Thomas Heatherwick and featured more than 200 petals coming together to make one flame. 

Tickets can still be purchased for a number of the Paralympic sporting events. Visitors staying in central London hotels may be interested in the special Olympic park cap up tickets that are available that allow access to the east London venue.

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