“Your performances will inspire and excite the world. You will not just inspire a generation here, but many generations to come."
Sir Philip Craven hailed “the start of something extremely special” after opening the London 2012 Paralympic Games in front of a capacity crowd at the Olympic Stadium.
The Games opened in spectacular fashion on Wednesday night, with Sir Philip describing this year’s event as the latest step on a “magical journey”.
He told the 4,280 athletes in the stadium that they will excite and inspire the world over 11 action-packed days.
“Tonight is a celebration of the development of the human spirit, a celebration of the Paralympic Movement coming home, and a celebration of dreams becoming reality,” Sir Philip said.
“As we embark on the Games, we do so knowing that what happens here has the energy to change each and every one of us.
“Sir Ludwig Guttmann started this magical journey when he developed, and then perfected, the revolutionary practice of using sport in the rehabilitation of spinal cord injury patients.
“In 1948, he organised the Stoke Mandeville Games on a small piece of land sandwiched between the back of a hospital and a railway embankment.
“Through human sporting endeavour that Spirit is stronger than ever today and we are eternally grateful to Sir Ludwig for his remarkable vision.
“Tonight is not just about his vision becoming reality.
“Around 10 years ago a group of people had a dream to bring the Games to London. Their vision was to transform East London and inspire a generation.
“This country has an insatiable appetite for sport. London 2012 has done a tremendous job in making everyone feel that these are their Games. “Tonight is the start of something extremely special. Tonight is about welcoming the world to a global Games, an event where we will experience every single emotion, including ones we never thought possible.
“Welcome also to the record 164 National Paralympic Committees who have brought with them the best prepared athletes ever.
“Most importantly welcome to you over 4,200 Paralympians.
“You have before you some of the finest sporting stages upon which to perform. Every step of the way you will be cheered on by some of the most passionate sport fans that you will have ever seen or heard.
“Your performances will inspire and excite the world. You will not just inspire a generation here, but many generations to come.
“You are the reason why millions will fill the venues, while billions watch on TV.
“You are here to continue the journey started by Sir Ludwig Guttmann and write the next chapter in the history of the Paralympic Movement.
“You not only have the abilities to win medals in London, but have the abilities to change the world.”