London 2012 Paralympic Games Fiery closing ceremony brings to a close an amazing summer of sport

THE most successful Paralympic Games in history drew to a close in spectacular style last night in a “Festival of the Flame” honouring Britain’s ancient traditions and festivals and marking the end of 11 days of sport.

The London 2012 Paralympic Games closing ceremony was set to see Coldplay, one of Britain’s best-selling music acts, joined by global superstars Rihanna and Jay-Z in a spectacular celebration of achievements of the Paralympic athletes and an amazing summer of sport.

Event organisers have hailed the “seismic effect in shifting public attitudes” to disability sports, claiming the games
have changed public perception forever.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Central to the ceremony – called the “Festival of the Flame” – were the 4,200 Paralym­pians from 164 nations who sat around the field of play from the start.

A war hero who lost both legs in a blast on the battlefields
of Helmand helped to close
London 2012, climbing a flagpole and proudly flying the Union flag.

Fifty-four drummers created an avenue through which the Earl of Wessex, representing the Queen, and International Paralympic Committee chairman Sir Philip Craven entered the
stadium.

They arrived in a custom-built car that began life as a military vehicle used in Afghanistan and was driven by Captain Tony
Harris, who lost his left leg below the knee when he was caught in a blast in Sangin in 2009.

Blind autistic singer Lissa Hermans, who also performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this year, sang the National
Anthem.

The spectacular and moving ceremony was another display of creativity and British eccentricity, bringing to an end six weeks of incredible competition. The audience roared as Britain’s joint flagbearers, wheelchair racer David Weir and
cyclist Sarah Storey, who each won four golds, were joined by athletes from each country.

The ceremony included some stunning effects and more than 1,000 performers, including a cast of disabled artists, who had spent weeks learning circus skills for the show.

London mayor Boris Johnson was expected to pass the Paralympic Flag to the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Eduardo Paes.

Teenage swimming star – and face of the games – Ellie Simmonds, 17, was due to be joined by sprinting sensation Jonnie Peacock, 19, to play a part in the final moments of the games.

As the Paralympic cauldron was extinguished, they were expected to transfer the final flame to a London Paralympic Torch, then to be used to light hundreds of torches held by
members of the cast throughout the field of play.

Fountains of water were then set to rise from circular stages to extinguish the Paralympic Flame.

The stunning send-off was due to end with a spectacular fireworks display over the 
Olympic Stadium and Park.

Coldplay singer Chris Martin said: “Being asked to play at the closing celebrations … is such a great honour for us.

“We were excited to try to
create a performance for the last night of the games that closed London 2012 in style.”

Rihanna said: “These athletes are gladiators and are a true
inspiration to me.”

The top events that hit the headlines:

DAVID WEIR’s four gold medals and his performances in winning them ensures he is recognised as the best wheelchair racer in the world and a strong contender for BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

JONNIE PEACOCK, right, won his place in Paralympic history when he triumphed over the likes of Oscar Pistorius, Jerome Singleton and Alan Oliviera to win the 100m crown.

Cycling sensation SARAH STOREY, 34, bagged four gold medals, which puts her alongside Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Dave Roberts as the most successful Paralympians of the modern era with 11 golds.

Swimming poster girl ELLIE SIMMONDS, 17, below, won the hearts of the nation after taking home four medals, including two golds and breaking two world

records.

OSCAR PISTORIUS, the poster boy of the Paralympics had his title taken away in the 200m by Brazil’s young speedster ALAN OLIVEIRA, sparking complaints about the size of the winner’s blades.

Ex-Formula One driver ALEX ZANARDI, who lost his legs in a crash, celebrated victory in the individual handcycling time trial at Brands Hatch by lifting his handcycle over his head.

Dubbed the Usain Bolt of the Paralympics, Ireland’s JASON SMYTH proved he remains the fastest Paralympian f all time, running the T13 100m in a record 10.46 seconds.