St Ives resident ANDREW HARDMAN is on Paralympic Games watch for The Hunts Post. As a wheelchair user and keen follower of disability sports, Andrew will be blogging throughout the Games. Here’s his take on the opening ceremony.
NINETY thousand people were in the Olympic Stadium last tonight to watch the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.
The ceremony opened to a close up of the moon with Stephen Hawking making a speech, followed by a dramatisation of the Big Bang which he has spent his entire life trying to understand which was used throughout the ceremony.
There was then small rain storm, symbolic perhaps of the weather of the past couple of days.
There then followed an acrobatic routine from volunteer disabled acrobats to a beat box version of Rihanna’s Umbrella. This was in tandem with volunteers on the floor of the arena, many of whom were wheelchair users, doing their own routine. Both were greeted with cheers and applause from the capacity audience.
There were nods to scientific discoveries of the past including the discovery of gravity by Sir Issac Newton, again given prominence throughout the ceremony, and the present with the Higgs Bosan particle as well as a nod to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
Sir Phillip Craven, president IPC (International Paralympic Committee), accompanied the Queen into the royal box to rapturous applause as the British flag was carried into the stadium by members of the Armed Forces, nominated for their military and community service.
The flag was greeted with cheers from the stands, watched on by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
As a disabled person, one of the proudest moments was the athletes’ parade through the Olympic Stadium. They were greeted with a rapturous reception. I believe it shows what the British public think of disabled athletes and disabled people in general. The commentary, however, left a lot to be desired but hopefully it should improve once the sporting competition starts.
The biggest cheer of the night was, of course, reserved for the British team.
Union Jacks were waved, smoke machines went off and they were accompanied by David Bowie’s Heroes. It was a great moment to see Boris Johnson and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge applauding, as did the Princess Royal. It certainly gave me a lump in my throat.
There was the usual protocol speeches made by Sir Phillip and Locog Chairman, Lord Sebastian Coe, extolling the virtues of the Paralympic Games as well as the role Britain has played in creating the Paralympic Games. The Queen officially opened the games followed by a fantastic firework display over the top of the Olympic Stadium.
The ceremony had many disabled people involved, one of whom interpretive dancer Peter Toole, taking centre stage to a beautiful piano accompaniment called bird girl widely appreciated by the audience.
The Paralympic flame was carried in by Royal Marine Joe Townsend, from the Orbit Tower, and carried to the cauldron by David Clark, a member of the seven aside blind football team, and the flame was lit by Margaret Maughn, Britain’s first ever Paralympic medallist.
The ceremony was closed by Beverley Knight singing a uplifting rendition of I am what I am, accompanied by a fantastic firework display.
Here’s to a fantastic 11 days of competition for Paralympics GB and great success for the athletes of Huntingdonshire.