The President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Sir Philip Craven has said 2012 promises to be the most important year yet for the Paralympic Movement as it prepares for an emotional return to its spiritual birthplace.
New Years Day will mark 241 days to go until the start of the London Paralympic Games and Sir Philip believes 2012 could be a landmark year.
Sir Philip Craven said: “The year ahead has the potential to propel the Paralympic Movement to new unimaginable levels.
“London is shaping up to match and maybe surpass what was achieved in Beijing, which is something I never thought possible.
“This is a big, big year, not just for the IPC but for the whole Movement, International Sporting Federations, National Paralympic Committees, Regions and founding federations.
“Together we can deliver something very special in London, and wouldn’t it be fitting to deliver the best ever Paralympic Games in the country where it all started.
“It’s hard to imagine that something Sir Ludwig Guttmann started in 1948 with just a handful of injured serviceman at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, will in nine months time see 4,200 highly trained athletes from over 150 countries compete in 20 sports in front of packed crowds.
“Together we have to seize the opportunity and write the next chapter in the exceptional success story of the Paralympic Games.”
Although London 2012 will be the main attraction in the year ahead, the IPC President is quick to stress that it should not be the Paralympic Movement’s sole focus.
”In 2012 we also have to concentrate on the vital planning for future Paralympic Games in Sochi, Rio and PyeongChang, as well as the continuing growth of the Movement,” explained Sir Philip.
“Our goal remains to increase participation at all levels – from the grassroots right through to the elite. We must not take our eyes off this important strategic goal.
“In 2011 we witnessed a major international or regional sporting event every second week and the year ahead is shaping up to be equally as exciting.
“I am looking forward to witnessing athletes at the very top of their game delivering some memorable performances to sold out stadia and to TV audiences all over the world.”