Voices from Russia

Thursday, 30 August 2012

2012 Paralympic Games Open in London

The Russian team at the Paralympics… it’s time to back the homeboys…


On Wednesday night, the opening ceremony for the 14th Summer Paralympic Games was held at London’s Olympic Park, and who better to help welcome the Paralympians than a scientist who showed the world that physical limitations don’t limit human potential? “Enlightenment” was the theme, physicist Stephen Hawking the guide, and Olympic Stadium the venue, as London welcomed 4,200 athletes from 166 nations and territories to the 2012 Paralympic Games. The extravaganza, directed by Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey, included 73 deaf and disabled professional performers and 68 disabled people among its 3,250 volunteers.

Over the next 11 days, Paralympic athletes will contest 503 sets of medals in 20 sports, including archery, cycling, rowing, equestrian, sailing, sitting volleyball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis, and wheelchair basketball. Wheelchair basketball, shooting, swimming, and track cycling are amongst the events set to feature on the opening day. Queen Elizabeth declared the London 2012 Paralympics officially open, during a spectacular opening ceremony watched by some 80,000 spectators.

Britain’s first Paralympic Games gold medallist, Margaret Maughan, 84, had the honour of lighting the cauldron. Paralympics chief Lord Coe told the crowd, “Prepare to be inspired, prepare to be dazzled, prepare to be moved”. Earlier, athletes paraded around the Olympic Stadium. Professor Hawking and actor Sir Ian McKellen played prominent roles in the ceremony, which also featured a host of deaf and disabled artists, local children, and performers newly-trained in circus skills.

Some 3,000 volunteers took part in the event, which organisers entitled Enlightenment and said was “profoundly about science and humanity”. Throughout the ceremony, Prof Hawking acted as a guide to Miranda… a character from William Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, who was central to the show… whilst Sir Ian played Prospero, another character from the play. Inspired by uncertain British weather, umbrellas were also a big theme in the ceremony, which was described as “both spectacular and deeply human” by organisers.

Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, welcomed the Queen before members of the British forces carried the Union Flag into the stadium. It’s the first time a British monarch officiated at the openings of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In a statement released before she opened the Games, the Queen said, “It’s with tremendous pride that the people of London and the United Kingdom welcome the world to the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The Games are returning to the country where they first began, more than 60 years ago”.

30 August 2012

Voice of Russia World Service


Editor’s Note:

In case you didn’t know, Russian Paralympians are eligible for the titles of Master of Sport, International Master of Sport, and Honoured Master of Sport, just as Olympians are. In short, this is the real deal, it’s recognised as such by the state; it ain’t no sorry-ass Special Olympics


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