Photo: Tommy Hindley / Professional SportLondon 2012 Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony
Sir Philip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee, hailed London 2012 as the greatest Paralympic Games ever during Sunday night’s Closing Ceremony, a spectacular celebration called the ‘Festival of the Flame’, which featured performances from Coldplay, one of Britain’s best selling music acts, joined by global superstars Rihanna and JAY Z.
A celebration of achievements of the Paralympic athletes and an amazing summer of sport, the Closing Ceremony saw one athlete from each competing nation carry their country’s flag into the stadium.
The Netherlands flag was carried by Esther Vergeer, who became the most successful wheelchair tennis player at the Paralympics during London 2012 when she clinched her seventh and eighth medals, surpassing the previous record of six won Australian David Hall during his career.
Following the presentation of awards to Michael McKillop (Athletics, Ireland) and Mary Zakayo (Athletics, Kenya) from Dr Whang Youn Dai for sporting excellence, recognition of six newly elected members of the IPC’s Athletes’ Council, and recognition of the 70,000 Olympic and Paralympic Games Maker volunteers, Coldplay were revealed on the central Sundial Stage to lead the celebrations with ‘Us Against The World’.
Then came the handover of the Paralympic Flag from the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to the President of the International Paralympic Committee Sir Philip Craven who entrusted it to Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes. This was followed by a joyful and colourful artistic segment by Rio 2016 of musical performances by Brazilian pop stars and playful dance battles with wheelchair dancers and visually impaired ballerinas.
Speeches by Sir Philip Craven, IPC President, and Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee were followed by The Final Flame – a section to mark the Closing of the Paralympic Games and the last night of London 2012
The Ceremony ended with a spectacular firework display over the Olympic Stadium and Park, as the worldwide broadcast left the Olympic Park to showcase a firework display along the River Thames as part of the Mayor’s Thames Festival, a stunning display lighting up the Paralympic logo, the Agitos, on Tower Bridge and finally a projection on the Houses of Parliament of the words ‘Thank you London, thank you UK.’
Sebastian Coe, London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Chairman, said: “The Paralympic Games has set new records every day, sporting records, records for crowds for television audiences, for unbridled spirit. In this country we will never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way. The Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation.”