Like the Great Wall of China, that has withstood the test of time, the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games’ success will be etched as a monumental feat!
The Games was nothing short of a blockbuster – 10 days of complete action, thrills and emotions; where several compelling stories were told and historic moments etched.
One such talking point was the resurgence of host China like never before. From what was just one medal from PyeongChang 2018 Games, China’s four-year journey to emerge as the top team is by no means a small achievement.
Their athletes laid low and simply burst onto the scene in time to take the entire field by surprise – finishing with an all-time best record of 61 medals – 18 gold, 20 silver and 23 bronze.
Spirited effort also came from the Ukranians, who did not let the crises back home effect their showing and ended up second with 29 medals – 11 gold, 10 silver and eight bronze. Canada also cemented the third spot with 25 medals – eight gold, six silver and 11 bronze.
The triumph of China will clearly change the dynamics of Para sport in the coming years and make it immensely competitive. It’s a watershed moment and as the curtains went down on the Paralympic Winter Games, Beijing rejoiced and with them the entire sporting world.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons summed up the Beijing 2022 Games success as huge shot in the arm of the Paralympic Movement.
“After three successive Games in Asia, the Paralympic Movement is bigger and stronger. Our vision for inclusion through Para sport is more meaningful and more needed than ever before.
“If Beijing 2008 started a new chapter of growth for the Paralympic Movement, then Beijing 2022 has marked a new dawn for the Paralympic Winter Games,” said Parsons adding, “You promised simple, safe and splendid. You delivered stunning, secure and spectacular. Awesome organisation, vibrant venues and sensational sport – the hallmarks of great Games here in Beijing.
“For sure, China has set a benchmark for all future winter Games. For certain, China is now a Paralympic winter sports powerhouse.”
In the beautiful setting of the iconic Bird’s Nest Stadium, for one last time, the Para athletes, officials, volunteers and organisers gathered to celebrate success, life and the Paralympic Movement together.
The evening got underway with the stage comprising LED Screens transforming into a core visual symbol of a ‘record player’ with a tone arm. But the sight to behold was the hundreds of red, blue, and green ski poles that were aligned to form the IPC’s Agitos.
On the edge of the record, as a golden laser with the six main events’ logos of the Paralympic Winter Games played some of the striking visuals of this Paralympic Winter Games, the President of the People’s Republic of China, XI Jinping’s arrival was announced.
Flag bearers from all participating countries, to the tunes of ‘Ode of Joy’, marched on to the record that transformed into a blue earth.
The IPC’s WeThe15 initiative logo also took centrestage on the ‘record’ and volunteers’ representatives with and without disabilities stood on the podium with the newly-elected members of the IPC Athletes’ Commission, presenting them with flowers.
To the music of ‘You Raise Me Up’, disabled performers using sign language expressed the most wonderful emotion shared by all of the human race ‘love’ while forming a special ‘sound wave’ on the floor that depicts touching scenes in the daily lives of persons with and without disabilities.
A video showcasing the perseverance in impaired volunteers and the breaking of barriers in pursuit to help others played amidst the tune, 'This Lovely World With You'', would have touched the heart of everyone present.
And so would have while watching the segment where nearly 200 hearing impaired performers, with the help of six sign language interpreters, used their silent language to express their hopes for a better world.
With the lowering of the Paralympic flag at the back of the Paralympic Anthem passionately played by a cellist with limb deficiencies, it was time to hand over the Games baton to next hosts - Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo 2026.
Hosts of the next Winter Games immediately raised the expectation with an artistic show ‘We are The Light’ as IPC President Parsons declared the close of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
Amidst the drumbeats resembling the ticking of time, the record played some of the unforgettable moments of the Games that will live forever.
As mascot Shuey Rhon Rhons slowly pushed up the ‘tone arm’ off the ground, stopping the ‘record,’ the Paralympic Cauldron was extinguished and snowflake faded into the night.
The fireworks then lit over the Bird’s Nest displaying ‘Beijing 2022’ for one last time to leave a lasting memory of the successful Winter Games - until we all meet again!