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Paralympics set to leave lasting impression on London (+video)

The Paralympic Games have proved remarkably successful, not just in tickets sold and prominent media coverage, but in making London into a city more accessible to disabled people.

By Paige McClanahanCorrespondent / September 9, 2012

Competitors in the Men's Marathon T54 classification travel past Buckingham Palace during the London 2012 Paralympic Games Sept. 9. This classification is for wheelchair racers.

Eddie Keogh/Reuters



The Paralympic Games officially come to a close in London Sunday night, and it’s already clear that the event has had a profound – and perhaps lasting – impact on both the city and its residents.

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“The Paralympics have captured our hearts and minds,” London Mayor Boris Johnson said on Wednesday, adding that the success of Britain’s Paralympians “provides us with new heroes to emulate.”

One-armed athletes, one-legged athletes, and athletes using wheelchairs have been grabbing headlines and gracing the front pages of British newspapers since the track cyclist Sarah Storey won the host country’s first Paralympic gold on the opening day of competition.

Since then, the good news has just kept coming: The British team is currently second in the total medal count, behind China but ahead of traditional sporting heavyweights like Russia and the United States. More than 2.7 million tickets have been sold, the most in Paralympics history.

“The public response to the Games has been incredible,” Sophie Morgan, a TV sports anchor, wrote in a column in the Independent, one of Britain’s most-read newspapers. In a reference to Britian’s official Paralympics broadcaster, she added: “I'm not surprised that Channel 4 has had record viewing figures. I didn't expect it, but I did hope.”

Channel 4’s coverage has been capped each night by a talk-show-style program hosted by the Australian comedian Adam Hills, who happens to have one leg himself.  

“The Last Leg,” as the show is called, offers an irreverent roundup of the day’s Paralympics news. In a popular segment titled “Is it ok?” Hills and his cohosts have been fielding viewers’ questions about disability. Some recent queries, submitted via Twitter: “Is it ok to wonder what happens if a runner’s prosthetic leg falls off in the middle of a race?” and “Is it ok to ask for a high-five from someone with a hand disfigurement?”


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