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London 2012 Paralympics


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These are maybe the most amazing pictures of both the Olympic and Paralympic torch relays of London 2012: It's past 1 a.m. now, and the torch is passing the small town of Tring in Hertfordshire. And the streets are packed with spectators, cheering for the torch burning brightly in this night! It's an almost magical atmosphere. And how great it would be if they copied that "24 hour torch relay" concept for future torch relays, also the Olympic one. It's moving to see that the flame keeps the people of a whole town awake.

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I have a friend who works with adults with learning disabilities and they were busing them down to the route in the middle of the night, and a local church opened for soup, bread and cups of tea. At first I thought why are they doing this in the dead of night, but it has allowed people to carefully plan where they will be. I realise that many people with disabilities despise sentimentality hence 'piss on pity' activism, but there was something very moving at seeing vast crowds (a lot of them seemed to have stepped drunk out of pubs) roaring on people who face very steep challenges in life.

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Oh fiddlesticks, the 24 hour relay has become a 23 hour one - they've put the flame on a bus, saving themselves a good 45 minutes. Whilst I quite agree that walking from Poplar to Hackney isn't like strolling through Chelsea or even Greenwich, I hope this means they haven't robbed anyone of the chance to carry the flame.

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First Paralympic Gold of London 2012 Goes to China

China’s Zhang Cuiping won the first gold medal of London Paralympic Games with a world record performance on Thursday.

Zhang, 24, notched up 500.9 points on aggregate to win the R2-10m air rifle standing-SH1, setting a world record of 104.9 points in the final.

The silver went to German shooter Manuela Schmermund with 493.6 points, while Australia’s Natalie Smith won bronze with 492.4 points.


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Paralympics 2012: Games sponsor Visa in row with charity

One of London 2012's biggest sponsors has been heavily criticised for failing to provide cash machines which can be used by people with sight defects.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People threatened legal action against Visa in July under the Equality Act, saying ATMs must have audio assistance.

The RNIB withdrew the legal threat when Visa agreed to temporarily upgrade two of the machines - but the company said that while this work was never actually done, it still met all of its obligations under equality legislation.

With the Paralympics under way the emergence of the dispute comes at a sensitive time with so much focus and attention on accessibility for people with disabilities and impairments.

The RNIB said it worked with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Locog) for more than three years to ensure the cash machines in the Olympic and Paralympic Park included the latest audio technology to assist the blind and partially sighted.

But while the six machines feature Braille and tactile keypads and have a socket for headphones, Visa was unable to provide the software required to make them function in time for the Olympics and Paralympics.


In a statement Visa said that it undertook extensive investigations into whether the machines could be adapted in time for the Games but in the end had to accept the timeframe - just a few weeks before the start of the Olympics - was too tight to change them. The company said it was adamant it had not been in breach of the Equality Act, and had met all legal requirements in the UK.

It added: "Visa is committed to addressing the needs of blind and partially sighted people in using ATMs in the UK and will work with our member banks and the RNIB to improve accessibility.



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7/7 woman achieves Paralympic dream

A woman who lost both her legs after being horrifically injured in the 7/7 bombings in London has described her "goosebumps" after fulfilling her dream of representing her country at the Paralympics.

Martine Wright, who proudly wears the number seven shirt in recognition of the day that changed her life, took her place in Britain's sitting volleyball team.

Along with the rest of the country, she was happily celebrating London's successful Olympic and Paralympic bid hours before the terror attack rocked Britain seven years ago.

Since then, she has become the embodiment of the Games by fighting back to fitness before taking to the court on Friday morning alongside her team-mates.

Despite going down 3-0 to Ukraine at the ExCeL Arena, Wright, 39, from Tring, Hertfordshire, told of her love for the sport and praised the incredible crowd.

She said: "The biggest crowd we have played in front of before today was 250, so to come here is really amazing. As a team we are really proud of ourselves. We have only got two-and-a-half years of experience and this is the first ever GB team so I am really proud, and this is the start of our journey."

She added: "I have goosebumps now and to come out here and represent my country in a sport I love is amazing. It's a dream and a dream I would never have had before 7 July."

The mother-of-one, whose son Oscar was due to watch from the sidelines, is among the 21 players who make up Britain's first ever men's and women's Paralympics sitting volleyball teams.

Being just 3ft away from one of the bombers, she considers herself lucky to be alive following the blast. Doctors told her she had lost 75% of the blood in her body and if it had not been for another passenger, off-duty police officer Elizabeth Kenworthy, who helped tie a makeshift tourniquet around one of her legs, she would not have survived.

Wright quit her job and used the incident as a platform to embark on a whole new life, including the decision to compete for Great Britain at the Paralympics. She tried a taster Paralympic day and fell in love with the team sport of sitting volleyball.


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very interesting piece in the NYT about the paralympics, and a nice change from the boilerplate special interest/perseverance pieces.

At Paralympics, First Thing Judged Is Disability

LONDON — Anthony Dawson, who has cerebral palsy and little muscle function on his right side, rode for South Africa in the first round of the equestrian dressage competition at the Paralympics on Thursday, guiding his horse through an intricately choreographed series of movements.

Last summer he had to perform an altogether different set of exercises in front of a medical professional, a way of determining what for many is the most crucial and potentially fraught aspect of the Paralympics: the disability category in which he would compete.


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Incredible full house at the Paralympics at 10.00am this morning .

it was fantastic !!!!!

I walked there along the regents canal from the Islington tunnel


Across this Chinese bridge


Through Victoria park


And into the Olympic stadium


Incredible there were more people in the Olympic park then there was when I was there during the Olympics.

Anyone making multiple visits and lives in North London should arrive by walking the regents canal for a least one visit. it gives the most pleasing perspective on the Olympic parks relation ship with the east end and central London. Half hour walk to upper street Islington.

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Alright guys, I'm back from my short visit to London (from Thursday until today) - and there's really only one thing I regret about this journey: That I didn't buy Paralympic tickets in time.

London really is a wonderful and friendly city (I was there for the first time in 17 years, so I had already forgotten that ;)) and it was great to see all those Paralympic flags and banners flying throughout the central parts of the city, even in parts that didn't/don't have Olympic or Paralympic venues.

Even directly in front of our hotel on Bloomsbury Way (near the British Museum) there was a Paralympic banner hanging from a lamp post. Additionally, they had the pictograms of different Olympic and Paralympic sports (including, for example, boxing and wheelchair athletics) in the pavement at Kingsway, a big street adjacent to the Holborn Underground station. Sadly, I didn't take a picture of them and haven't found some so far on the internet.

On Friday, I was a bit disappointed, though - because I hadn't seen any Games Makers so far, although I had read somewhere that there also Games Makers on Gatwick Airport, where we arrived -- and although we visited (as best as possible, it's all currently fenced off) the Mall on Friday, where the Paralympic marathons will finish on next Sunday.

Here's a picture I took there:


But then, on Saturday (i.e. yesterday), we visited Greenwich. And there they suddenly were: Games Makers all over. It was fantastic -- they lined the way from the Greenwich DLR station (Citius Altius Fortius, Sir Rols and Citizen-Seth, you'll probably still remember that ;)) to Greenwich Park, pointed the way to the Park with their bullhorns and funny styrofoam fingers, all greeting us with a "Good Morning" and a friendly smile. I said to my parents, "Every paid employee who is grumpy to his customers should be ashamed when he sees these friendly and motivated unpaid volunteers..."

From the top deck of Cutty Sark (I can recommend that for all London visitors, it's an impressive ship) I saw four Games Makers having fun at the College Approach which leads to the equestrian venue in Greenwich Park. Here's a short video I took of that scene:

Then we went to the Royal Maritime Museum to see the exhibition about the Thames there (also recommendable for everyone who can still see it before it ends on next Sunday). There we also met the astonishingly friendly soldiers of the Army and the Royal Navy who did the security checks for the museum, which apparently already belongs to the security zone for the equestrian venue. Kudos to them as well! And when we had some coffee after our visit on the terrace of the Royal Maritime Museum, this was the closest I could get to the (still partially filled) equestrian venue:


On our way back out of the park, we met additional Games Makers and asked one of them whether there are still tickets available. She said yes, but pointed to a line of people waiting for getting some of the last equestrian tickets in front of the Naval College. That row was a bit long and furthermore, the equestrian competition continued three hours later, so that was a bit too much for our tight schedule. ;)

What was also funny was that it's true that if you halt for a few seconds near an Olympic venue, immediately a Games Makers comes and asks whether she or he can help you. That was the case when we stopped for really only two or three seconds in front of the Naval College. ;)

So my Paralympic experience was pretty small, but it was an impressive experience for me nevertheless. I'm really sad, at the same time, that the fantastic Olympic and Paralympic experience for the Londoners will belong to history in just one week. There are cities I would love to see hosting those Games much more often -- and one of those cities definitely is London.

However, after all the friendly people we met also apart from the Paralympic areas in the city (including the smiling policemen on their horses securing the changing of the guards in front of Buckingham Palace), I'm confident that London will keep a part of the Games Makers' stunning friendliness and thus of the Olympic and Paralympic Games also in the future. London, you are great!

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I was at the Park today for my first visit to the velodrome (my first visit to the stadium will be Friday, then the wheelchair basketball Gold medal match on Saturday at the O2).

It was brilliant, absolutely amazing atmosphere, the venue's great bla de bla. Of course I expected all that from watching the Olympic track cycling on tele. What I really didn't expect was quite how 'easy' it is to forget how disabled some of these athletes are, or simply not even realise until halfway through their event! I don't want to labour this point because I know there's a danger of me coming off as condescending, but to see a man with one leg rocket around the velodrome at 65kmph is astonishing. And frankly, unless the athlete had a very noticable disability like that, you could easily forget you were watching disabled cyclists, certainly when watching the top teams anyway. I have to admit, I didn't expect that.

It didn't feel like the aftershow either. As far as I'm concerned London is still very much in Olympic-mode, or at least the Olympic Park is. The rest of the world might've moved on now, but the Paralympics is something I'm very glad I've attended! As far as I'm concerned London 2012 ends Sunday.



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Paralympics-Rogge to undergo surgery, will miss closing ceremony

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge will miss the closing ceremony of the London Paralympic Games because he is due to undergo hip surgery, the IOC said on Tuesday

"The president will undergo hip replacement surgery this week and will need a few days to recover," an IOC spokesperson said

The International Paralympic Committee confirmed Rogge would not be attending Sunday's closing ceremony where Coldplay are due to bring down the curtain on the 11-day sporting spectacle.

The 70-year-old Belgian, a former orthopaedic surgeon, attended the opening ceremony last Wednesday.

The closing ceremony is based on a theme of earth, wind, water, fire and ice and Rihanna and Jay-Z are rumoured to be among the acts joining Coldplay on stage.


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Paralympics come of commercial age

With top athletes competing in front of sold-out stadiums and global television audiences in the millions, the Paralympic Games are starting to look a lot like their able-bodied equivalents - and big business is right behind.

Although the money for TV rights, ticket sales and athletes' earnings is not on a par with the Olympics, the rapidly growing profile of the Paralympics has made them a commercial opportunity in their own right.

And while it took the Olympics the best part of 90 years to evolve into the business they have become, the transformation of the Paralympics is much more swift.

"The media coverage has increased exponentially over the last 12 years," said Greg Hartung, Vice President of the International Paralympic Committee, which organises the Games. "These Games seem to be breaking all records."

Tickets have sold out for most events at the 14th Paralympics, held in London weeks after the Olympics, and organisers hope the sale of more than 2.7 million tickets will bring in close to 45 million pounds ($55 million).

While most of the tickets were available for 10 pounds or less compared to the hundreds of pounds charged for many seats at the Olympics, tickets were often given away in the past - if seats could be filled at all.

A cumulative total of more than 4 billion people are expected to watch the London Games on television, compared to 3.8 billion for the 2008 Beijing games and 1.9 billion for Athens in 2004, the Paralympic committee said.


full article


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The Guardian has done an article about the Paralympic success.

The games have exceeded expectations on all fronts – with the standout figure being the sale of 2.7m tickets, 900,000 more than were sold in Beijing, Locog has announced.


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