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Event will leave 'big legacy' for host nation
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09:06, September 09, 2008

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· Paralympics
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Athens would like to share its experience of staging the Paralympics with Beijing, the president of the Greece Paralympic Committee, Spyros Stavrianopouloss, said on Sunday.

"The Paralympics brings society closer to the disabled, and improves social recognition of the them," he told China Daily. "Every big sporting event is also a big social event."

The international nature of the Paralympics "is a big school" for both Greece and China, he said.

"The 2004 Athens Paralympic Games left us a very big legacy. It brought our society closer together and to the disabled.

"By communicating with the international Paralympic community we also learned to work better using new techniques to coach our athletes," Stavrianopoulos said.

The Greek Paralympic team in Beijing consists of 68 athletes. They are competing in athletics, boccia, cycling, judo, power-lifting, shooting, swimming, sailing and wheelchair fencing.

"Our team has some very young athletes who got interested in sports because of the 2004 Paralympics," Stavrianopoulos said.

The same thing will probably happen in China, he said.

"I made a short visit to China four years ago. At the time I saw few wheelchair-bound people on the streets.

"I hope that after the Paralympics many more disabled people will venture out to visit parks, museums and shops," he said.

About the opening ceremony of the Games on Saturday, he said: "It was wonderful. It conveyed such strong spirituality."

Source: China Daily

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