THE opening ceremony of the Paralympics in Rio took place on the evening of September 7 in spite of all of the problems that had surrounded the lead up and the fact that there was a last minute lack of expected funding which meant that not every area was finished to the highest standard but a larger than forecast crowd filled the Maracana Stadium to cheer on the 4,350 disabled athletes from 160 different countries who paraded before them.
The actual opening ceremony began when a wheelchair being navigated by American Aaron Fortheringham amazed onlookers by shooting down a massive ramp before performing a back flip through a giant ring.
This set the tone for the entire evening which was about the ability of individuals to overcome life’s difficulties.
There were, as to be expected, some fantastic performance from dancers and musicians both before and after the march past by the competitors and the only real downside was when the new Brazilian President Michel launched into a speech, he was booed roundly as was the organising committee president Carlos Nuzman, but apart from that and the rain, there was much to cheer.
There was a moment of real drama when Maria Malsar, using a walking stick slipped and fell on the wet surface whilst carrying the Olympic Flame but she managed to pick herself up and was cheered for each additional step of her journey. Eventually, the flame was passed to wheelchair bound Clodoaldo Silva who had to navigate his wheelchair up stairs before igniting the main Olympic Bowl.
With an estimated crowd of 78,000 cheering the athletes and displays, the ceremony was a greater success than anyone had expected.