• London Paralympics 2012

Queen opens Paralympic Games

ESPN staff
August 30, 2012
The view over the Orbit as the opening ceremony takes place © Getty Images
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The London 2012 Paralympics got underway with a spectacular opening ceremony at Stratford's Olympic Stadium in front of a capacity crowd on Wednesday night.

Over the next 11 days 4,200 athletes from 164 countries will compete, including more than 300 athletes from Great Britain.

Britain's first Paralympic Games gold medallist, Margaret Maughan, 84, who won the archery competition at the 1960 Rome Paralympics, lit the cauldron, while Lord Coe told the crowd: "Prepare to be inspired, prepare to be dazzled, prepare to be moved … these will be a Games to remember."

The ceremony, while considerably less expensive than the one for the Olympics at the end of July, was no less spectacular and contained many similar features - including reference to William Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' and use of Tom Heatherwick's now-iconic cauldron.

Eight members of the British Under-22 wheelchair basketball carried the Paralympic flag into the stadium. It was raised by members of the armed forces, before the Queen declared the Games open.

"The Games are returning to the country where they first began, more than 60 years ago," she said. "We look forward to celebrating the uplifting spirit which distinguishes the Paralympic Games from other events, drawing on Britain's unique sporting heritage."

Organisers said 2.4 million tickets of a possible 2.5 million have already been sold, making it likely these will be the first sell out Paralympic Games.

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