Record-setting London Paralympics open

  • The London Paralympics opened on Wednesday with a ceremony revolving around the theme of “Enlightenment”.

    Physicist Stephen Hawking called on athletes to "look to the stars" as he helped open the Paralympics Games that will run for 11 days.

    "The Paralympic Games is about transforming our perception of the world. We are all different, there is no such thing as a standard or run-of-the-mill human being, but we share the same human spirit,'' said Hawking, who was given two years to live after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963.

    The gala, directed by Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey, was touted as a journey across "a sea of ideas'' such as Isaac Newton's discovery of gravity, the force that all Earth-bound athletes battle against.

    The opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium was watched by 80,000 spectators and included 73 deaf and disabled professional performers, counting 68 disabled people among its 3,250 volunteers.

    The London event is set to be the most-watched Paralympics ever, with 2.5 million tickets to be sold.

    A total of 4,200 athletes from more than 160 nations are to take part in the 2012 Paralympic Games.

    The Paralympic movement came about courtesy of the vision of Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, who in 1948 organized an archery competition for 16 injured patients at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Britain.