IPC Athletics World Championships opens in Lyon20.07.2013
Sir Phillip Craven opens athletics' biggest gathering since London 2012
‘The rivalries that got us all talking at London 2012 and made front and back page news will be retold here, whilst I am sure some new stars and rivalries will emerge that will keep us gripped and entertained for years to come.’
The sixth IPC Athletics World Championships were officially opened on Friday 19 July at the Stade du Rhone in Lyon, France, as a military helicopter dramatically passed over the stadium carrying the French tricolore.
A thunderstorm added to the drama but failed to dampen the spirits of competitors and performers as Lyon’s rich cultural heritage was celebrated with a historic re-enactment, taking spectators back more than 800 years to the ‘Pennons de Lyon’, before athletes representing over 90 participating nations paraded into the stadium.
Gérard Masson, President of the Organisation Committee IPC Athletics World Championships 2013, welcomed the hundreds of athletes and representatives, the supporters and the media before thanking all the partners that helped organise the event.
“With the Organisational Committee team, we put all our energy and heart to welcome our guests from all continents, in the best possible conditions, dedicated to performance and to the show,” he said.
“The passion that our teams have been showing for three years, associated with the enthusiasm of the 1,200 volunteers mobilised, will allow everyone to enjoy this week with conviviality and excellence around the Paralympic athletics.”
Earlier, French government officials including the Minister for sports, youth, and community life, Madame Valérie Fourneyron, the Minister of women’s rights and government spokesperson Madame Najat Valaud Belckacem, and the Minister delegate for disabled people and the fight against exclusion, Madame Marie-Arlette Carlotti, looked on as the flag bearers took centre stage.
Thomas Brun, a master corporal of the French army wounded in Afghanistan, passed the host nation’s flag to athletes of the French Paralympic team who will compete in Russia at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, before the French national anthem resounded round the stadium, led by tenor Sébastien Guèz.
“London 2012 gave birth to a whole host of new superstar athletes who lit up the Olympic Stadium each day in front of 80,000 spectators and millions of TV viewers around the world,” he said. “We all left with memories that will last with us forever, and I am sure the same will happen here in Lyon.
“The rivalries that got us all talking at London 2012 and made front and back page news will be retold here, whilst I am sure some new stars and rivalries will emerge that will keep us gripped and entertained for years to come.”
Volunteers and athletes of the French Paralympic Committee then carried the flag of IPC Athletics World Championships Lyon 2013 in to the stadium, whilst the IPC flag was held aloft by athletes of the Rhone-Alpes region – all Olympic, Paralympic and World gold medallists.
Finally, athletes, officials and coaches - led by home favourite and defending world champion Marie-Amelie Le Fur - took their oaths as the Paralympic anthem played out to the crowds.
Competition gets underway on Saturday morning at 09:45am with the men’s shot put F12, and concludes on Sunday 28 July with the marathon races.
Live results can be found at the Lyon 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships website whilst updates and behind the scenes pictures can be found at twitter.com/IPCAthletics and facebook.com/IPCAthletics