London 2012: Festival of the Flame ends summer of sport
The Paralympic Games - and Britain’s summer of sport - ended with a spectacular ceremony which lit up the Olympic Stadium and marked a Games “made in Britain”.
Coldplay, with special guests Rihanna and Jay-Z, took to the stage at Festival of the Flame, which paid tribute to the UK’s tradition of hosting festivals.
In a speech during the ceremony Lord Seb Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), said: “The Paralympic Games has set new records every day, sporting records, records for crowds for television audiences, for unbridled spirit. In this country we will never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way. The Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation.
“In the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games I said that we would ignite a flame that would ignite the world. I am proud tonight to say we have done this.
“There are some famous words you can find stamped on the bottom of a product. Words, that when you read them, you know mean high quality, mean skill, mean creativity. We have stamped those words on the Olympic and Paralympic Games of London 2012: “London 2012. Made in Britain.”.”
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The ceremony opened with a section where a storm created by Wind Gremlins on motorbikes, who attempted to blow away the Paralympic Agitos.
Captain Luke Sinnott, a double amputee, then climbed to the top of the flagpole to fly the Union Flag, accompanied by the National Anthem performed by Lissa Hermans, who is blind and autistic.
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The section honoured servicemen and women, particularly through the work of charity Help for Heroes.
During a moving speech by Rory Mackenzie, who lost his leg on a patrol due to a roadside bomb, flags from the competing nations formed a heart shape on the field of play before the shape was burnt into the ground.
A motorcade of vehicles stormed into the Olympic Stadium, including a Clamposaurus, Hellcopter, Beast from the East, Bug, Time Machine and The Car that had to be Toad. The large tricks were built by a team led by Joe Rosh who specialise in taking old battered vehicles and turning them into amazing mechanical floats and machines, and the smaller vehicles were built by Mike Patterson and a team at Kinetika, an outdoor arts design company. The noisy, chaotic and vibrant possession burnt an intricate pattern of crop circles into the field of play before forming the centre stage.
Irish athletes Michael McKillop and Kenyan athlete Mary Zakayo received awards for sporting excellence from Dr Whang Youn Dai, and six newly elected members of the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Athletes’ Council were welcomed. They presented six representatives of the Games Makers with flowers.
Coldplay then took to the stage, where they played some of its most famous songs while performers took the audience through the seasons from autumn to winter to spring to summer.
The band was accompanied by spectacular performances by Candoco Dance Company, disabled ariel performers trained at Circus Space thanks to funding from Arts Council England, and The British Paraorchestra founded by Charles Hazlewood as part of a 200 strong professional cast, 1,300 volunteers, and 120 child volunteers from schools in the east London host boroughs.
Autumn included the songs Us Against the World, Yellow, Up in Flames and Paradise, which concluded with 19 fireflys descending from the roof.
During Winter confetti, marking snow, fell from the ceiling onto the crowd in the Stadium, and a Snow Queen, played by Vikoria Modesta, a lower-leg amputee, model and singer/songwriter, and blue painted Iceni warriors performed while Coldplay performed 42 and God Put A Smile On Your Face.
The latter song was accompanied by motorcycle aerialists Lyndsay Adams and Laszlo Simet, who rode to the top of the Stadium by motorbike to ignite a ball of energy to signify the beginning of Spring.
In Spring Coldplay performed Clocks whilst a giant laser spread across the Stadium, and Charlie Brown accompanied by 120 children, before Rihanna was revealed on a Steamship truck travelling around the track for the performance of Princess of China with the band.
Summer opened with Strawberry Swing accompanied by the British Paraorchestra, before Rihanna performed We Found Love from a swing raised above the stage, and Coldplay finished the season with a performance of Viva La Vida.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson handed the Paralympic Flag to IPC president Sir Philip Craven who passed it to Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes, before Brazilian performers took to the stage to give a glimpse of what can be expected from the ceremonies of the 2016 Games.
Sir Philip and Lord Coe made speeches, before Paralympic gold medallists Ellie Simmonds and Jonnie Peacock arrived to transfer the final flame to a London Paralympic Torch. They then proceeded to light hundreds of torches held by members of the cast throughout the field of play, whilst JAY Z arrived on stage with Rihanna to perform Run This Town followed by a reprise of Paradise by Coldplay with JAY Z.
A compilation of sporting highlights was played while Coldplay performed The Scientist, before finishing with Every Teardrop is a Waterfall whilst the circular stages released fountains of water to finally extinguish the Paralympic Flame.
The ceremony ended with a spectacular firework display over the Olympic Stadium and Park, as the worldwide broadcast left the Olympic Park to showcase a firework display along the River Thames as part of the Mayor’s Thames Festival, a stunning display lighting up the Paralympic logo, the Agitos, on Tower Bridge and finally a projection on the Houses of Parliament of the words ‘Thank you London, thank you UK.’