THE London 2012 Paralympic Games last night came to an inspiring close at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, with the London Games chairman Sebastian Coe praising the Paralympians, saying they had “lifted the cloud of limitation.”
Last night’s spectacular closing ceremony, which was headlined musically by Coldplay, also saw Coe give a moving thanks to thousands of games-makers who had helped.
He also described how proud he was at the way the UK had conducted itself throughout the Olympic period. “There are some famous words you can find stamped on the bottom of a product,” he said. “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.”
Paralympic great Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson has also hailed the Games as the best of all time, and predicted that more of its stars will cross over to compete in future Olympic events. “It’s just been amazing,” Grey-Thompson told City A.M. “The thing that’s been different is the spectators. Beijing was fairly full but the reality was that a lot of tickets were given away, whereas for these Games every person had to buy a ticket.
“People had such a good time that they wanted to come back and do it again. That’s the difference, it was absolutely stuffed full of people.”
Double amputee Oscar Pistorius won the final track event on Saturday night, having also featured in the Olympics last month, and Grey-Thompson, winner of 11 gold medals in previous Paralympics, says now is the time to ask if more athletes can span both events.“I think we’re going to see more crossover between the two Games; we’re going to see more athletes potentially doing both,” she said. “There’s a number of athletes who have done both before. You have [Polish table tennis player] Natalia Partyka who did the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics and done the same in London. And if you take someone like [cyclist] Sarah Storey – there was talk she might make the Olympics.”
Such an arrangement would not compromise the status of the Paralympics, Grey-Thompson argues.
“It’s not that you’re settling for second best because you make the Paralympics,” she added.
The Paralympics made national heroes of Storey and Weir, and Grey-Thompson hopes athletes enjoy increasing exposure. “I think at Rio 2016 we’re going to see loads of athletes that are much better known,” she said. “If Paralympians are better known, it changes the whole world’s attitude to disabled people.”
Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson is a Team Visa Ambassador. Team Visa provided funding, support and advice to 20 athletes across Europe on their journey to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games