This post is part of our special coverage of the London 2012 Olympics.
After hosting a most memorable Olympics, the British capital city of London welcomed the world's Paralympians for what is claimed to be the biggest Paralympics Games ever. Though the Games may not be able to rival their able-bodied ones in terms of hype and coverage, there are still many conversations going on online focusing in the event.
Leggotunglei starts by giving a historical background of how the Paralympics Games came about:
In 1948, a hospital outside London witnessed the birth of the Paralympic movement, as a Jewish doctor who had fled Nazi Germany sought to change the lives of patients with spinal injuries — and inspire new hope in them through sport. The first “Stoke Mandeville Games” were organized in 1948 to coincide with the London Olympics, the second to be held in Britain.
The blogger continues:
In 1956, a “statement of intent” was unveiled for the Games, which were by this time international, according to to the Mandeville Legacy website run by the local authority. It read: “The aim of the Stoke Mandeville Games is to unite paralyzed men and women from all parts of the world in an international sports movement, and your spirit of true sportsmanship today will give hope and inspiration to thousands of paralyzed people.” Four years later, inspired by Guttmann’s vision, the first official Paralympic Games were held in Rome in tandem with the Olympics. And five decades on, some 4,280 Paralympians from 165 countries — the largest number ever — have returned to Britain to compete in what is now the premier international sporting event for those born with disabilities, or disabled by injury or illness.
Voices of Russia says this about the opening ceremony of the Games:
On Wednesday night, the opening ceremony for the 14th Summer Paralympic Games was held at London’s Olympic Park, and who better to help welcome the Paralympians than a scientist who showed the world that physical limitations don’t limit human potential? “Enlightenment” was the theme, physicist Stephen Hawking the guide, and Olympic Stadium the venue, as London welcomed 4,200 athletes from 166 nations and territories to the 2012 Paralympic Games. The extravaganza, directed by Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey, included 73 deaf and disabled professional performers and 68 disabled people among its 3,250 volunteers.
It also notes Queen Elizabeth II's role in opening both the Olympics and Paralympics – a first for any British monarch:
Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee, welcomed the Queen before members of the British forces carried the Union Flag into the stadium. It’s the first time a British monarch officiated at the openings of both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In a statement released before she opened the Games, the Queen said, “It’s with tremendous pride that the people of London and the United Kingdom welcome the world to the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The Games are returning to the country where they first began, more than 60 years ago”.
JideSaluDiary blog from Nigeria captures Africa's biggest economy participation in the Paralympic Games:
The London Paralympic Games opened on Wednesday night and Nigeria was represented. It is set to be an inspiring 11 days of watching deformed, turned athletes show the world that nothing is impossible. It was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who said “you can’t win unless you learn how to lose”. These Athletes have suffered deformity that would have any killed abled-body, however, they have learnt to come to terms with their loss. Basically, these Athletes have learnt to lose. I am looking forward to watching blind footballers play 5 a-side football. I have also found out that there is wheel chair Rugby, how about that….wheel chair rugby, huh! There also will be one legged swimmers, as well as amputee Volleyball players competing like its normal. I know that, after this paralympic games, my challenges will become insignificant.
Nigerian weightlifter Yakubu Adesokan opened the medal score for African countries by giving Nigeria its first gold – in power-lifting. This is a performance that bettered even the able-bodied athletes’ Olympic achievements from Nigeria. Here are a few reactions on Twitter from Nigerians:
@MoshdaBoss: Yakubu Adesokan wins first gold for Nigeria at the Paralympic Games, breaks world record….Able bodied athletes go and hide o….chai!!!
Athletes from other nations will similarly dazzle and inspire those around them, as they overcome all odds to take home medals. From its humble beginnings in Stoke Mandeville, the place which also lends its name to one of the one-eyed London 2012 mascots, the Paralympic movement has come a long way. But in its commitment to bringing people together to test and celebrate what they can do, rather than what they cannot, its core spirit has remained unchanged.