Farewell, London. Good luck matching that, Rio.
The three-hour party at the packed 80,000-seat arena in east London gave the world a chance to celebrate 11 days of Paralympic competition that have shifted perceptions and shattered stereotypes about the disabled.
“In this country, we will never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way,” said Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organizing committee. “The Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation.”
Central to the closing ceremony — called the “Festival of the Flame” — were the 4,200 Paralympians from 164 nations who encircled the field of play from the start, waving flags and taking in the extraordinary atmosphere. By the end of the extravaganza, they created an international mosh pit in front of the stage as volleys of fireworks rocketed above.
“I think it’s been an absolute triumph from start to finish,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose disabled son Ivan died in 2009. “I think back to Ivan. As every parent, you think about all the things they can’t do, but at the Paralympics they are superhuman, you see all the things they can do.
“It’s been a golden summer of British sport.”