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Layla Anna-Lee

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"Look Up at the Stars and Not Down at Your Feet"

Posted: 30/08/2012 10:08

Professor Stephen Hawking introduced the Paralympic opening ceremony combining sport, science and curiosity to bring us a display of unity and positivity that truly has no boundaries.

Ticket sales and athlete entries, that have broken all records from before, clearly tell us that social attitudes have changed and respect for disability and Paralympics is growing, as is our nations enormous appetite for Paralympic sport.

Since its birth as essentially a hospital sports day at Stoke Mandeville in 1948 it has grown. 1960 saw the introduction of the first official Paralympic games in Rome and now we're expecting London 2012 to be the first ever Paralympic games to completely sell out.

The opening ceremony was a spectacular welcome to the athletes that have been sponsored by their nations and sent over to represent their best. Of all the changes and education of the last four years it was the athletes parade that gave us the greatest example of change. 4200 athletes have arrived to compete from 164 nations, more than ever before.

Each nation which included themselves in the games is an example to all others - the nation's entries, even on a wild card, display their nation's recognition of the sport and respect for their disabled, athletes carry their flag with pride.

One thing that becomes more evident in the Paralympic parade than that of the Olympic parade is the welcoming of an entire team. Coaches, managers, doctors and all those behind the athletes walk in also, as some did in the Olympics, but they weren't really seen nor heard - it's important to remember that no athlete gets to the finish line alone.

It's a massive team effort, in the hype of the Olympic game we often forgot the team behind the medals, but in the Paralympics the team members are paramount. They are more celebrated and more visible, showing us just how much work it takes. Perhaps a more grateful games commences.

We all watched the ceremony in awe. Awe of the smiles on the faces of those with a disability that would render most of us disabled.

Now the awe will be explored and undoubtedly magnified as will be our new found recognition of the sports. 11 days lie ahead of inspiration and sport that will, in Professor Stephen Hawking's words "Celebrate excellence, friendship and respect."

Enjoy the Games!

 

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