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London Paralympics open in journey of dicovery guided by Hawking


14:33, August 30, 2012

LONDON, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- London Paralympic Games were officially opened in a storytelling ceremony highlighted by "a journey of discovery" on Wednesday night.

Guided by the world's most celebrated scientist, Professor Stephen Hawking, the Ceremony explored the twin themes of reason and rights and was led by the character Miranda, featured in Shakespeare's The Tempest, heralding 11-day competitions for Paralympians.

Named Enlightenment, the three-hour show featured the use of umbrellas, quintessentially British and full of comic potential. The professional cast includes 73 deaf and disabled performers, while the volunteer cast of 3,250 hails from all over the world. They range in age from 10 to 80 years old.

A crowd of about 62,000 spectators at the London Olympic Stadium were offered an apple each to join in a probably largest "apple crunch" party, creating simultaneous bites of apples to feel the theme of "Gravity", in a tribute to Isaac Newton, which was one highlight of the total 11 scenes.

The opening section introduced Miranda, played by professional actress Nicola Miles-Wildin, who encouraged audiences to look at the world with a sense of wonder and curiosity.

Professor Hawking appeared on the "moon stage" and spoke of the quest for understanding the origins of the universe. He called for a new age of enlightenment as he acted as a guide to Miranda and audiences on a journey through time and the great discoveries that have changed perceptions about the possibilities of the human mind and the physical universe.

In the section titled "Spirit in Motion", which is the motto of the Paralympic Movement, athletes from across the world entered the stadium, where they received a suitably energizing welcome.

Teams from 164 countries and regions, the largest ever number in the history of the Paralympic Games, brought together about 4,200 athletes to compete in 503 medal events from 20 sports.

China's delegation, which includes 282 athletes among whom 47 percent are Paralympic debutants, was led by wheelchair racer Zhang Lixin to the Stadium. Zhang, who had one leg amputated at the age of 16 for suffering from a tumor, won four gold medals in the men's T54 category. He will compete in three events in London.

"Sport is about what you can do, what you can achieve, the limits you can reach, the barriers you can break. Sport shows what is possible," said Sebastian Coe, the chairman of the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. "And now we are ready. Now the stadiums are ready. Now the people of Britain are ready. Now the athletes are ready," he added.

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