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05 Sep 2012
IOC News

London’s Paralympics Enlightens the World

Now edging into the second week, the action from London’s Paralympics is wowing the world with elite athletes performing at their best. The spectacular event comprising 4,200 athletes representing 65 countries is the biggest staging of the Paralympics so

Titled “Enlightenment”, the four-hour opening ceremony on 29 August explored the theme of scientific discovery and education and set the tone for 10 days of inspirational sporting prowess. Athletes have been showing their muscle in 20 sports, ranging from cycling, powerlifting, and judo, to wheelchair rugby and goalball.

With 32 gold medals up for grabs on Day 1 when the action kicked off, China’s Yi Siling deftly took gold in the women’s 10-metre air rifle competition and cemented her reputation as the ‘shooting beauty’. Also on day 1, the guts and skill of cyclist Sarah Storey brought on the cheers and she achieved the host nation’s first gold in women’s individual C5 pursuit cycling.

Excitement was in the air when British Golden Girl Ellie Simmonds smashed the S6 400m world swimming record to claim Britain’s second swimming gold of the event. She followed up later in the week by setting a new world record and winning in the heats of the women’s 200m Individual Medley SM6.

Another thrill from the Aquatics Centre came when Ihar Boki of Belarus set his fourth world record of London 2012's swimming competition by shaving off more than four seconds in the 400m Freestyle – S13 400m Freestyle - S13 to 4:02.83.

One of the biggest surprises this week came when 80,000 spectators watched South African Oscar Pistorious, otherwise known as “The Blade Runner”, come second to Brazilian Alan Oliviera in the 200m finals in the Olympic Stadium. Pistorious, arguably one of the most famous Paralympic athletes in the world, had up until this point been unbeaten in a 200m Paralympic race. Pistorious also made headlines last month when he used the blades to compete against able-bodied athletes in the Olympics. He is still to compete in the 100m and 400m events later this week.

The Paralympics is the world’s second largest sporting event. It has come a long way from its humble origins at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, North London where neurosurgeon Ludwig Guttman organised a competition for wheelchair athletes on the occasion of the 1948 Olympics.

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