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Paralympic baton passes to London
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21:38, September 17, 2008


Guo Jinlong, Mayor of Beijing, waves the IPC flag during handover ceremony on the closing ceremony of Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in the National Stadium, or the Bird's Nest, Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 17, 2008. The closing ceremony kicked off at 8 p.m. sharp on Wednesday. (Xinhua/Li Ga)

Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong handed over the Paralympic flag to London Mayor Boris Johnson here on Wednesday night, signaling the moment at which the British capital took over as the host of the 2012 Paralympics.

Then the new host country's anthem was performed in the Beijing National Stadium, by a 25-strong group of British pupils from the Harrow International School in Beijing.

Ranging in ages from 14 to 18, the pupils from Harrow represent one of many developing cultural, social and business links between London and Beijing.

The eight-minute London show was a highlight of the Beijing Paralympics' closing ceremony, featuring a series of iconic visual images, innovative dance performances and memorable musical moments that introduced London as host for the next Paralympics.

The London 2012 Games represents a unique opportunity to welcome the Paralympic Games back to the country that inspired the creation of a new worldwide sporting movement, following the historic archery competition amongst war-injured patients at the Stoke Mandeville Hospital just outside the capital in 1948.

The handover segment also featured guest performances from Paralympic medalist and TV personality Ade Adepitan and, representing the next generation of the British music scene, drummer Cherisse Osei and rock guitarist Sam Hegedus.

The Paralympic handover carried on from where London left the Olympic handover. For the first time, both segments were conceived as two halves of one story - a journey to Beijing and a journey home bearing both the Paralympic and Olympic flags, along with the hopes and dreams of the world's best athletes.

The iconic London bus returned to the stadium as it left at the end of the Olympic handover. Above the London skyline represented on the set, stood Lord Nelson taking a break from his famous column in London's Trafalgar Square.

Nelson was not only one of Britain's most celebrated national heroes but famous for achieving in spite of a range of disabilities.

However, this was Nelson with a twist as he picked up his electric guitar, donned his shades and joined the band. The bus then reassembled to begin the journey back to Britain. Its transformation reflected the power of the Games to inspire change across London and the rest of Britain.

Dance in its many forms was at the center of the segment. The creative collaboration between urban and contemporary dance and in particular CandoCo's mix of disabled and non-disabled dancers brought a unique dynamic to the show. In another Games first, the same cast appeared in both handover segments.

The diversity of musical styles and background sounds filled the stadium -- from orchestral to rock, pop and urban, along with the chimes of Big Ben and the Greenwich Time Signal. The wonderfully diverse soundtrack reflected worldwide musical styles and eras that have accompanied Britain's history as a seafaring and industrial nation - from the Hornpipe for pulling up anchor on ships to musical patterns generated from industrial noises, such as hydraulics, steam engines and panel beating.

Other icons and images of British society and culture referred to in the handover include:

Tea -- as important in the UK as in China -- the old cliche "everything stops for tea" is given new meaning by a brief tea break right in the middle of the show.

A basketball - wielded by wheelchair basketball champion Ade Adepitan as part of the choreography, again makes the positive link between sport and culture.

Source: Xinhua

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