Craven louds "message-sending" opening ceremony of Asian Para Games

22:20, December 13, 2010      

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The flame of the inaugural Asian Para Games was lit in Guangzhou on Sunday, and Philip Craven, head of the world sports governing body for the disabled, was impressed by the wonderful opening ceremony as well as the messages it sent.

"What a great night we had last night at the opening ceremony. I thought the opening ceremony even rivalled what went on in Beijing two years ago," said Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, in a news conference on Monday.

"And it had a lot of very strong messages about sport, about family, about teams, about love and about emotion. That's all life is all about."

An emotional opening ceremony was staged on Sunday night, highlighting the power of love and caring for the disabled people, as well as their fortitudinous image.

"It's important that young people and old people practice sport, practice physical activity and that possibility for persons with perceived disabilities is not being there before," said Craven who watched the ceremony in the main stands.

"Those emotions and those feelings were featured in the opening ceremony very very strongly. But then we move onto sport, then we move onto the athletes with the torch relay. This combination of sport and what is important about life was very well shown last night."

The lighting of the caldron was the climax of the opening ceremony. Two outstanding Chinese disabled athletes, Zhang Lixin, a male wheelchair sprinter and Zhang Haiyuan, a female jumper, held the torch alternately and climbed up a some 40-meter-high man-made cliff without the help of any equipment. The climbing was a pretty job for the two athletes, both of whom lost one leg.

Source: Xinhua

They were watched and cheered by some 60,000 spectators in the stands before they held the torch together and lit the flame together on the peak of the "cliff".

Compared with the flame lighting in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, Craven said: "Hou Bin in Beijing did an incredible performance, climbing that rope to light the flame. The caldron lighting here was again a very strong physical performance from those two final athletes. But they worked as a team. And when people worked as a team, anything is possible."

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