What a night for the Games — and the town!
9:13am Friday 31st August 2012 in News
IT WAS a night of celebration for some of Bolton’s finest cultural and sporting ambassadors at the Paralympic Opening Ceremony.
The Bolton line-up in the sporting spectacular included Bolton School old boys Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Philip Craven and former double-gold medallist Tony Griffin.
The Boltonians took to the stage alongside 141 other disabled performers, including 27 wheelchair-users, to mark the beginning of the Games.
Tony, from Great Lever, carried a gold javelin in the aerial display to represent athletes in the track and field events.
The 52-year-old had been preparing for his role in the acrobatic display with six other former Paralympians for 10 weeks.
He said: “Being suspended in the air by wires above all those thousands of people screaming and shouting was just incredible.
“As I looked down all I could see was flashing lights and I could hear the crowd roaring. The atmosphere was absolutely electric.
“I’m just so pleased disabled people are finally being recognised as proper athletes. London 2012 will definitely raise the profile of Paralympians across the world. I will never see anything like this again in my lifetime and I’m so happy that I was able to be a part of it. It really was amazing.”
Like Danny Boyle’s acclaimed curtain-raiser, the show also drew from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, featuring Sir Ian playing Prospero and disabled actress Nicola Miles-Wildin as Miranda, while Professor Stephen Hawking narrated.
Sir Philip entered the Olympic Stadium with The Queen in his role as International Paralympic Committee president.
Sir Philip, who has previously competed in the Paralympic wheelchair basketball competition, praised Bolton in his speech, saying: “This country has an insatiable appetite for sport.
“London 2012 has done a tremendous job in making everyone feel that these are their Games.
“Imagine my pride when I discovered that the Paralympic mascot Mandeville had been hand crafted by a retired steelworker from my home town of Bolton.”
Philip Britton, headmaster at Bolton School Boys’ Division, said: “I was very proud to see two Bolton School old boys in the opening ceremony. Both men have already shown themselves to be able to inspire a generation in visits to the school and they contributed to that Olympic legacy on the night. Sir Ian was inspirational at a drama workshop a couple of years ago when the drama studio opened and Sir Philip made a huge impact on Bolton at the School’s Tillotson lecture last October with his message of concentrating on what can be done rather than what cannot.”
l An average of 7.7 million viewers tuned in to see the four-hour show, winning Channel 4 its biggest audience for more than 10 years