Social and Cultural Events
London 2012 Paralympic Story
It is now widely accepted that the London 2012 Paralympics were, as Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) declared, ‘the greatest Paralympic games ever’. With a history of the games as we know them dating back to 1960, this is no small compliment. Furthermore, as the Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales observed, it was the warmth and welcome of the people of Newham who created the spirit of success and achievement that would endure throughout the games. The residents of the borough made up a large part of the volunteers and staff that helped to make the Paralympics unforgettable.
The stage was set with a stunning ceremony introduced by Professor Stephen Hawking, whose extraordinary life and passion encapsulates the meaning of Paralympic sport: ability not disability, what people can do, not what they cannot do. Not only did London host well but Team GB performed spectacularly well, winning a total of 120 medals, 34 of which were Gold. The games also made a tangible difference to the way in which disability and impairment are viewed in wider society.
This was a truly transformative celebration on ability, with over a third of the adult British population changing previous perceptions of the nature of disability and impairment. Like the London Olympics, talent from around the world was showered on London. 4237 athletes from 164 countries came to compete against each other and challenge society’s understanding of disability sport. Throughout the duration of the games, research by the IPC found more incredible outcomes:
- Around eighty percent of British adults believed the games had a positive impact on the way individuals with an impairment were viewed by other people,
- 65% agree the Paralympics delivered a breakthrough in the way people with an impairment are viewed in the country – up from a 40% expectation in June 2010
London ensured the Paralympic Movement’s core values of courage, determination, inspiration and equality were broadcast to the world, in spectacular fashion. The 2012 Paralympics garnered the largest audience than ever before – around 2.7 million – and a cumulated TV audience of around 3.8 billion. If the central aim of the Paralympic sport is to ‘inspire and excite’ the world, London delivered, raising a new bar for the practice of Paralympic sport. To sustain the spirit of success, Newham became part of a new a programme, Every Child a Sportsperson, to ensure sport continues to have a positive social impact, encourages inclusivity and supports the next generation of future Olympians.