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Paralympic chief hails ceremony
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08:17, September 09, 2008

Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee said yesterday he was disappointed to have missed the last 10 minutes of the opening ceremony for the Paralympics.

"During the ceremony, I had to leave my box to make a speech in the stadium and was not able to see the end of the show. It really disappointed me, because the show was so wonderful," he said during a visit to watch the judo competition at the Workers' Gymnasium in Beijing.

"It is one of the best events I've ever been to in my life, there was so much passion," he said.

"There were several stories in the show and they came together like a book that told a big story. It was a cultural show but with a lot of things about sport."

The highlight was the part when 2,000 children ran into the stadium, he said.

"They came in like ants and then frogs. They are just little super humans," he said.

As well as watching the judo, over the past two days Craven has awarded the first medals of the Paralympic Games at the Beijing Shooting Range and watched the British cycling team win gold at the Laoshan Velodrome.

The standard of competition and the hugely supportive crowds have been amazing, he said.

"The shooting range was very quiet while the cycling was spectacular. I'm very proud the British team has already won three gold medals," the Briton said.

"When I was watching the judo, the hairs on my arms were standing up," he said.

It was also obvious that the local fans were keen to create a party atmosphere, he said.

"The spectators have been amazing and the atmosphere in the venues is really lively," he said.

"They support everyone, not just the Chinese athletes. At the cycling event I saw Chinese fans applauding a Japanese athlete."

Craven said he was pleased to see the Beijing Paralympics had been a catalyst for China's barrier-free development.

"When the facilities are accessible, you don't really notice them. That's what I have found in Beijing and the great progress has been made.

"Dmitry Chernyshenko, the CEO of the Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Organizing Committee, told me he was impressed to see the barrier-free facilities in Beijing are also present in other Chinese cities," he said.

"This is the most important thing for me."

Source: China Daily

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