Spectacle and inspiration: Paralympics Opening Ceremony

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We talk fast, swapping between subjects like teenagers, and seeing everything about us as new and exciting. It seems a long walk from the tube station. Plenty of wild flowers. Around us are others, but they are able-bodied. I had expected to see disabled people heading to the Paralympics. No sight of the stadium yet.

It’s enormous, stretching in a magnificent oval and up into the sky. Ahead, people stream over the bridge towards it. The sound of cheering and music fills the air from the stadium. It is an hour before the start-time but I want to be in there more than anything else.

It’s enormous, noisy, inspiring.

There is something artistic going on down there. I don’t understand its meaning. It seems to have no connection to Paralympics. Perhaps it is pure symbolism.

The opening music and ceremony is great, but it is unfair on the athletes. They deserve to be here too.

They’re coming — a disparate collection of people, some in chairs, some hobbling, others in dark glasses and guided by their teammates. Some countries come with a single athlete, two coaches and a standard-bearer. The standard bearers walk straight and steady, not looking back. Stop! You’ve left your team way behind — they’ve got fewer legs than you. A black-clothed figure off-camera waves at them to slow.

The 164 petals of the Paralympics Cauldron have been lowered. They light them and the flames ripple round in a display of light. The arms of the cauldron rise upwards steadily, joining together. A single flame shoots high into the sky. Then I breath again. I had completely forgotten about breathing. Witnessed first-hand the cauldron is inspiring, and full of optimism. TV cannot portray this feeling.

I don’t think I can ever be the same again after seeing this.

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