I will never forget the emotional moment when London was awarded the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I was alongside Sebastian Coe at the IOC meeting in Singapore in July 2005 which made the decision – and when London won, there were wild celebrations at home and in the hall.
Since 2005, the focus has always been about the Olympics and Paralympics, under one organising committee. That has been hugely positive.
I’m convinced that London 2012 will be the best Paralympic Games we’ve seen and that London will raise the bar for disability sport. The UK has so much to be proud of in terms of its understanding of disabled people, and in terms of putting disability sport on the map, because it was here that the Paralympic movement began. And sport has really led the way in showing what an inclusive world can look like. After such a huge success with the Olympics, I’m looking forward to another fantastic opportunity to show the world what the UK can do, what our society has built – and what a great place London is!
What will the London 2012 Paralympics be like? We have tried to really take the best from previous Games and think about athletes in everything that we do. The world is going to see sport like never before.
My ambition for London 2012 is that it raises the profile of Paralympic sport and the athletes – it is fantastic to see Paralympians like Shelley Woods appearing on billboards and buses around the city. Interest has been increasing with successive Games, and the London 2012 ticket sales have been very impressive. That promises to make a fantastic atmosphere for the athletes competing. I hope that everyone competing from around the world can take time to enjoy it, as it will be over so quickly.
Above all, my hope for London 2012 is that these Games will herald a deeper understanding of disability sport, that the athletes competing will be seen as elite in the same way that our non-disabled athletes have demonstrated at the Olympic Games, and that in future years, host nations will learn from London’s example and will give equal treatment and publicity to both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.