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- 01 September 2014 00:00
- in Paralympics
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National Paralympic Day has once again proved a major success as thousands attended celebration events held across the UK with the highlight coming at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.
The celebration event at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park saw National Paralympic Day staged alongside the Mayor of London’s Liberty Festival and visitors flocked to the event in their droves exactly two years on from the day when ParalympicsGB won its first medals at London 2012.
Visitors to the event were able to cheer on world-class athletes, marvel at the sights and sounds of the Liberty Festival and take part in a variety of disability and inclusive sports.
The Earl of Wessex was among the thousands in attendance on the Park where the stars of London 2012 returned to compete in the same iconic venues they made famous at the Paralympic Games.
In what proved exhilarating international competitions, Britain’s Paralympic champion Jessica-Jane Applegate joined Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games medalists Steph Slater and Jack Thomas in the pool London Aquatics Centre while the GB women’s wheelchair basketball team narrowly lost out to the Netherlands in a thrilling contest at the Copper Box Arena.
Also in action in the Copper Box Arena were the stars of boccia and goalball, with reigning Paralympic and world boccia champions Greece defeating hosts GB in a high quality contest.
Visitors got involved by trying out different disability and inclusive sports such as wheelchair basketball while Paralympic stars such as sprinter Jonnie Peacock, long-jumper Stef Reid, cyclist Jody Cundy and skier Jade Etherington were in attendance to meet fans, take pictures and sign autographs.
"I am so pleased to see such a fantastic response to National Paralympic Day 2014 across the country, including here in London,” said British Paralympic Association (BPA) CEO Tim Hollingsworth.
"At Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, GB athletes have returned to some of those iconic venues from London 2012 and competed fantastically well in front of cheering crowds.
"Our ambition for National Paralympic Day is to give people the opportunity to relive the wonder of London 2012, celebrate what they love about the Paralympics and be inspired by it.
"The success of the events held today in London, Liverpool and Birmingham combined with the messages of support that we have received from across the UK, underlines the enthusiasm there is for Paralympic sport in this country.
"It will help us to carry the momentum from London through to Rio.”
The Liberty Festival at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park also proved a huge success as the annual showcase of deaf and disabled artists featured an exciting line-up of street theatre, dance, live music, film, installations and children's activities.
"Two years ago the Paralympic Games Opening Ceremony was an unprecedented opportunity for deaf and disabled artists and performers to showcase their talents to the world,” said the Deputy Mayor of London for Education and Culture Munira Mirza.
"For more than a decade, the Liberty Festival has also been breaking down barriers and challenging preconceptions, as well as entertaining people.
"Whether disabled or not, this year's event offers plenty for everyone attending the National Paralympic Day celebrations to enjoy."
The event was also supported with funding from Spirit of 2012 (Spirit), who work to ensure the spirit that radiated from the London 2012 Games can be felt by everyone, everywhere.
"We are thrilled to support National Paralympic Day,” said Spirit CEO Debbie Lye.
"Building on the momentum of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, National Paralympic Day provides an annual opportunity to recapture and reignite the excitement of Paralympic sporting achievement, giving people a chance to see and meet their Paralympic heroes and have a go themselves at various sports and activities.”