• London Paralympics 2012

Festival of Light draws Paralympics to a close

ESPN staff
September 9, 2012
The Paralympic flame was central to the theme of the closing ceremony © Getty Images

London bade farewell to to the Paralympics in spectacular fashion on Sunday night with a Festival of Light at the closing ceremony, celebrating the power of the human spirit that has been on display at both the Paralympic Games and earlier this summer at the Olympics.

After the Agitos, the symbol of the International Paralympic Committee which means 'I move' in Latin, was paraded through the stadium, the transformed arena was soon swarming with performers, some on fantastical vehicles including a cyclist towing a cycling burning man.

The unique machines, rescued from disrepair and turned into something new and greater than the sum of its parts, paid symbolic respect to the versatility and resilience of the Paralympians, who have proven that disability need not impede excellence.

Lance Corporal Rory Mackenzie, a 26-year-old combat medical technician who lost his right leg while serving in Iraq, officially opened the Festival of the Flame: "The symbol of the spirit of the Games, which has burned bright at London 2012," he said.

"Tonight we celebrate that spirit, and although we have many differences, there is one quality we all share, one thing all of us have in common: human spirit."

Athletes representing each of the 164 nations participating at the Paralympics carried their flags in the parade of nations, with wheelchair racer David Weir and cyclist Sarah Storey, who each contributed four golds to Great Britain's 120-medal haul in London, carrying the Union Jack together.

After representatives for the London 2012 volunteers were given the loudest cheer of the night, Coldplay took to the stage, joined by drummer Mat Fraser, who was born with phocomelia, with ceremony cast signing tracks for the deaf as highwire artists and dancers performed for the crowds.

"So, it's over," lead singer Chris Martin sang at the start of 'Up in flames', a poignant moment at the end of the six-week Olympic and Paralympic programme.

With the mood swiftly returned to festival euphoria, Laslzo Simet and Lyndsay Adams performed on a high wire above the athletes, lighting the ball of energy to bring forth the spring act of the season-themed showpiece. Rihanna joined the band, riding a steamship truck to the stage.

The concert gave way to ceremony as Mayor of London Boris Johnson passed the Paralympic flag to the President of the IPC Philip Craven, who in turn passed it on to Eduardo Paes, the Mayor of Rio, host nation of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. After a Brazilian show, Sebastian Coe took to the stage to address the crowd.

"Together these past few weeks we have shared some wonderful days, haven't we?" said Lord Coe.

"Days where incredible people have performed feats we hardly thought possible. Days, in these Paralympic games, where our minds were open to what people can do, to what can be achieved by sheer talent and determination."

After paying tribute to the Gamesmakers, Lord Coe concluded: "There are some famous words you can find stamped on the bottom of a product. Words, that when you read them, you know mean high quality, mean skill, mean creativity.

"We have stamped those words on the Olympic and Paralympic games of London 2012: 'London 2012. Made in Britain."

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