Coldplay, Rihanna and Jay-Z close Paralympics
THE three-hour party at the packed 80,000-seat arena in east London gave the world a chance to celebrate 11 days of Paralympic competition that have shifted perceptions and shattered stereotypes about the disabled.
"In this country, we will never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way," said Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organising committee. "The Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation."
Irish athlete Michael McKillop -- whose mum Catherine presented his gold medal earlier in the week -- proudly received The Whang Youn Dai Achievment Award for embodying the spirit of the Games.
Central to the closing ceremony were the 4,200 Paralympians from 164 nations who encircled the field of play from the start, waving flags and taking in the extraordinary atmosphere.
They created an international mosh-pit in front of the stage as volleys of fireworks rocketed above.
"I think it's been an absolute triumph from start to finish," said British prime minister David Cameron, whose disabled son Ivan died in 2009.
"I think back to Ivan. As every parent, you think about all the things they can't do, but at the Paralympics they are superhuman, you see all the things they can do."
Coming after a hugely successful Olympic Games, the 2012 Paralympics broke all records, with 2.7 million spectators cramming into venues, more than $70m (e54.8m) raised in ticket sales and the Games broadcast in more than 100 countries. They are unprecedented figures as sports fans displayed an enthusiasm previously unseen in the 52-year history of the Paralympics.
Proud flag-bearers from all competing nations marched in before a parade of 25 trucks and motorcycles stormed the stadium and kick-started Coldplay's set.
Frontman Chris Martin belted out hits such as Clocks, Viva La Vida and Paradise.
Rihanna, who first appeared dressed in a flowing orange gown before changing to a see-through black top and dark sunglasses said: "Being at the Paralympics is the biggest honour. These athletes are gladiators and are a true inspiration."
The stars, who have sold millions of records, were paid £1 (e1.25) to play.
The ceremony finished with the extinguishing of the flame, ending the games in London and passing the baton to Rio de Janeiro for 2016, with Rio's Mayor Eduardo Paes waving the Paralympic flag.
Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee, said: "We are enlightened and armed with a superior knowledge of what can be achieved.
"The legacy of these games will be long-lasting."