08/09/2016 04:51 BST | Updated 08/09/2017 06:12 BST

Paralympians Will Inspire And Excite The World, Opening Ceremony Told

Paralympians competing in Rio will inspire and excite the world as the Games get under way, those who gathered to watch the spectacular opening ceremony have been  told.

Viewers will see empowering performances during the next 11 days, the head of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven said.

British athletes, under the team name ParalympicsGB, are aiming to better their London 2012 tally by winning 121 medals during the Games in Brazil.

Addressing thousands of people in the Maracana stadium, where teams from across the globe were welcomed, Sir Philip said: "Through the performances of Paralympians, you will see the true meaning of sport and the true definition of ability.

"You will witness how Paralympic sport has the ability to inspire an individual, and the outstanding capacity to transform communities, countries and continents."

Sir Philip, who lost the use of his legs aged 16 after a rock-climbing accident near his home town of Bolton, made special mention of the first Independent Paralympic Athletes team, which includes two refugees.

The five-time Paralympian said: "At a Games full of inspiring stories, yours may well be the most inspiring of all."

Equestrian Lee Pearson, who led ParalympicsGB into the arena, described the ceremony as "amazing", adding: "Now let's crack on with the Games and show the world what we can do."

Among those competing for Britain on day one of the Games is cyclist Dame Sarah Storey, who is aiming to overtake Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson as the British female with the most Paralympic gold medals.

Dame Sarah, who won the C5 3km individual pursuit titles in Beijing and London, is aiming to defend her title and win a 12th Paralympic gold.