London Paralympic opens today, biggest ever
KINGSTON, Jamaica - The London 2012 Paralympics which opens today and will run until September 9, are set to be biggest in the Games' 52-year history.
The Paralympic Flame has arrived in London ahead of the opening ceremony just hours away, carried by Great Britain's most successful Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Boxer Michael Watson and swimmer Chris Holmes were also part of the torch-bearing team.
Interesting Paralympic facts:
- So far,A record 2.5million tickets have been put on sale and with only 100,000 tickets left, organisers expecting the first-ever Paralympic sell-out.
- 4,200 athletes are vying in 503 medal events, up from 3,951 competitors in Beijing in 2008.
- There are 20 paralympic sports in 2012, including athletics, swimming, cycling, wheelchair rugby, and goalball, in which visually-impaired athletes play with a ball embedded with a bell.
- 166 countries are expected to send athletes to the Games. Some 16 nations will be making their Paralympic debut, including North Korea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- There are 15 competition venues, including the Olympic Stadium, velodrome, aquatics centre and Eton Manor, a permanent new complex of nine wheelchair tennis courts inside the Olympic Park.
- 1,250 anti-doping samples will be taken during the Paralympics, an increase of 25 percent since Beijing.
- A workshop with 15,000 spare parts will be on standby to repair athletes' wheelchairs, prosthetic limbs and orthoses- devices which support the limbs.
- 580 Torchbearers will carry the Paralympic flame in a 24-hour relay from Stoke, Mandeville - the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, in southern England - to arrive at London's Olympic Stadium on August 29.
- 780 hours of luve coverage will be streamed on the International Paralympic Committee's website, with commentary in English and Spanish.