The London 2012 Paralympics are coming to a close. Even before the athletes had the chance to amaze us, the games were receiving smashing reviews from the opening ceremony alone. Entitled Enlightenment, the spectacular event set the stage for what was to come in the 11 days; illustrating the humanity and respect for these athletes that so many of us share. BBC news reported Paralympics chief Lord Coe told the crowd: “Prepare to inspired, prepare to be dazzled, prepare to be moved.”
The torch, flown in by 24-year-old Royal Marine Commando Joe Townsend, an aspiring Olympic triathlete who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan, descended on a zip wire into the stadium from the top of the Orbit Tower. The flame was then passed on to light the 166 petals of the cauldron, representing the names of the competing nations, creating a flaming flow that came together to form one large torch flame. The ceremony consisted of several great moments including six Paralympians and former competitors flown into the stadium in golden wheelchairs. Also featured was a host of deaf artists with disabilities, local children and performers.
The Games first began 60 years ago in the UK and now returns to its roots with open arms. Consisting of 11 days of competition by 4,200 athletes from 164 countries, the 2012 Paralympics are predicted to receive unprecedented attendance with more than 2.4 million tickets for the events sold, including half a million to overseas visitors. Opening day featured wheelchair basketball, shooting, swimming and track cycling.
The Paralympics show us how disabilities are not impairments but catapults that launch us into a life we never imagined. Many of us find ourselves overcoming obstacles we never thought we’d face and the satisfaction of coming out on top is even sweeter knowing the journey was longer and more difficult than we could have imagined. Our strength comes when we think there is none and we come to achieve what we never thought we could. Life Moving Forward.
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