LONDON: The Paralympic flame is on the final leg of the torch relay to London, where it will kick—off the London 2012 Paralympic Games at the opening ceremony on Wednesday night.
London has welcomed a record number of athletes for the Paralympic games, with 4,200 contestants and 166 national paralympic committees participating.
This year’s Paralympics also look set to be the best attended in history, with more than 2.3 million of the 2.5 million tickets for the Games sold to date.
Record ticket sales mean thousands of spectators are eagerly waiting for the Games to start. Organisers are delighted with the excitement.
Chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Sebastian COE, said: "We were very clear that one of the legacies we really wanted to push for was maybe being able to tilt some of those misconceptions that there still exists in some quarters about disability.
"I think when people see the Paralympic Games, they will be amazed by the quality of sport that they see."
Now, the Olympic village has been turned into the Paralympic village.
The Olympics and Paralympics village was designed to be accessible from the start, so it only took a few days for preparations for the second set of athletes to be completed.
The venues have increased their wheelchair capacity by removing and rearranging the existing seating, Blind spectators will be supplied with audio guides, while those with hearing impairments will be seated with a direct view of large screens.
Mr Coe said: "The Paralympic Games are coming home. They were created in this country in 1948, and most of the big developments and drives within that movement have been British."
The forerunner to the Paralympics was the brainchild of a German doctor who had fled Nazi Germany.
As head of the Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Dr Ludwig Guttman staged an athletics competition on the same day as the 1948 Olympics to help World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries.
As Dutch veterans also took part, it was the first international competition of its kind.
While Stoke Mandeville remains a key treatment and training centre, the Paralympic games of today are much changed, with the 2012 Games staging around 500 events in over 20 different sports.
Organisers say the London 2012 Paralympic Games is on course to be the first sold out Paralympics in the event’s 52—year history.
Paralympians hope this will drive home the message that while these games will be very different from the Olympics, it is nevertheless an elite sporting event.