That's all, folks! Wonderful London 2012 Paralympics wrap up with spectacular closing ceremony
22:29 GMT, 9 September 2012
Stunning effects and raw courage signalled the end of the Paralympic Games in London on Sunday night.
The closing ceremony – billed as the Festival of the Flame – lived up to its name as flame throwers, blazing torches and a gigantic heart of fire lit up the Olympic Stadium.
An awed audience roared with delight, particularly for Britain's joint flagbearers wheelchair racer David Weir and cyclist Sarah Storey, who each won four golds.
Dazzling: Fireworks fill the sky as the London 2012 Paralympics come to a close
Stunning: An external view of the stadium
Heroes: David Weir and Sarah Storey with the British flag
Flag bearers: Athletes show their country's flags off
They were also moved by the grit and
determination of legless war hero Captain Luke Sinnott – who hauled
himself up a flagpole to proudly fly the Union Flag.
The courageous 32-year-old lost his
limbs in 2010 after volunteering to search an area 'saturated' with
improvised explosive devices to protect his comrades.
Organisers described his role in the ceremony as 'a supreme feat of strength and courage'.
Star billing: Pop band Coldplay appeared during the show
Link-up: Rihanna performs with Chris Martin of Coldplay
Pop queen: Rihanna wowed the crowd
Who's this Megastar Jay-Z helped close the Paralympics
Magical: Athletes enjoy the ceremony
Loved the Games: A heart of flames is displayed on the arena floor
Blind autistic singer Lissa Hermans, who also performed at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee this year, sang the National Anthem.
So, seven years, two months and three days after London was awarded the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2012, the baton was passed to Rio de Janeiro.
'Nothing else compares,' sang Chris Martin as Coldplay played Clocks, marking the ticking of time and the conclusion of a great adventure which began on July 6, 2005 in Singapore when London was named host city of the Games of the XXX Olympiad and XIV Paralympiad.
Symbol: The Agitos logo is displayed during the closing ceremony
Present and correct: Boris Johnson watched on
Well done: Ireland's Michael McKillop receives the Whang Youn Dai Award
'Para-para-paradise,' Martin also
sang. It could have been written for the Paralympics, the Parallel
Games, as we celebrated the end of a glorious, wondrous summer of
sporting spectacle, punctuated by British success on home soil.
It was a time for reflection and we
were left to wonder when we will see the like of London 2012 again. But
this was also a celebration of the time of our lives. Of the best
The After Party, as Paralympians like to call the Games, thrilled like none of the previous 13 editions had done so.
Over 4,200 athletes from 164 nations
competed for 503 medals, performing to the peak of their physical
capabilities and changing perceptions of what is possible.
Welcome: Martin helps Rihanna get her groove on
Toot toot: The Earl of Wessex arrives
London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe summed it up.
He said: 'These past few weeks we've
shared some wonderful days, haven't we Days where incredible people
have performed feats we hardly thought possible. Days in these
Paralympic Games where our minds were opened to what people can do, to
what can be achieved by sheer talent and determination.
Speakers: LOCOG Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe (left) and President of the IPC Sir Philip Craven
'We will never think of sport the
same way and we will never think of disability in the same way. The
Paralympics have lifted the cloud of limitation.'
International Paralympic Committee
president Sir Philip Craven added: 'This is an event absolutely no-one
wants to end. These Games have changed us all together.'
Images aplenty stand out from the 11
days of competition, which concluded today with David Weir racing his
wheelchair down The Mall, London's most picturesque boulevard, to a
fourth gold of his home Games.
Busy scene: The closing ceremony was hectic
Sizzle: Flame throwers light up the arena
Thank you: Games Makers are shown recognition for their fantastic work
The extravaganza celebrated the human
spirit, evident in abundance, particularly over the last 11 days, as
the Paralympics altered perceptions.
Few embodied the human spirit as much
as the London 2012 volunteers, who suitably were honoured along with
Irishman Michael McKillop and Mary Nakhumicha Zakayo of Kenya, who
received The Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award for 'demonstrating
exceptional qualities in sporting excellence and other areas of their
Just as we had been dazzled in
sporting competition, the closing ceremony amazed, astounded and at
times baffled, with scenes resembling Mad Max and flame throwers fired,
fireflies descending from the sky and delight on the faces of all.
Fancy seeing you here: Johnson with Ken Livingstone
Hang down: A flaming backdrop is suspended in the Olympic Stadium
Coldplay, Rihanna and Jay Z performed
with the same energy and enthusiasm demonstrated by the athletes as the
flame was extinguished by swimmer Ellie Simmonds and amputee sprinter
Over to Rio. There are 1425 days
until the Rio Olympics, 1459 to the Paralympics and Boris Johnson, the
mayor of London, passed the flag to his Brazilian counterpart, sparking a
carnival of colour.
The time cannot tick quickly enough.
On the up: Captain Luke Sinnott climbs to hang the Union Flag
Swirly: An unorthodox view of the Olympic Stadium