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Paralympics will live long in the memory

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James Pearce | 16:27 UK time, Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The organisers of London 2012 have broad smiles today.

The number of ticket sales at this stage in the process for a Paralympics are "unprecedented", they boast.

Well that's true, although if you'll excuse my pedantry for a moment then I'll point out that this has to be the case, as never before have Paralympic tickets been put on sale this far out from the start of the event.

But put London 2012's spin to one side, and the figures are still extremely impressive. 116,000 separate applications for 1.14m tickets. At least one price category for one session is going to have to go to ballot in 16 of the 20 sports.

Darren Harris from Wolverhampton, who is blind, fights Julian Davis (rear) during International Paralympic Day in Trafalgar Square earlier in September. Photo: PA

Darren Harris from Wolverhampton, who is blind, fights Julian Davis (rear) during International Paralympic Day in Trafalgar Square earlier in September. Photo: PA

The Sydney Paralympics in 2000 are widely accepted to have been the most successful ever. A total of 1.2m tickets were sold for those Games. London 2012 still has a way to go to match those figures, as many of the million initial applications will be for the same tickets, but it's an excellent start.

I was lucky enough to be sent to Sydney to cover the 2000 Paralympics. They are some of the best memories of my broadcasting career. They were a truly great Games. The Olympics had generated so much positive momentum that, once they were over, hundreds of thousands of people decided that they wanted more.

By the time that the Paralympics had begun it was almost impossible to get hold of a ticket for any of the swimming finals. There wasn't a spare seat in the house for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. It was hard to fault those Paralympics in any way, but I'm confident enough to make this prediction: The London 2012 Paralympics will be even better.

British sports fans have proved again over the past few months that they're some of the most dedicated spectators in the world.

First Olympic tickets were snapped up, and now Paralympic tickets too. Many of those who've applied for Paralympic tickets won't yet know much about some of the athletes that they're likely to see. They've bought tickets because they want to be a part of the occasion. Yes, they'll cheer for the British team, but other competitors will be given their fair share of the acclaim too.

I'll take a tiny portion of the credit for the large number of applications for London 2012 Paralympic tickets, as I've been encouraging all my friends to apply! No, I don't have 116,000 friends, but all those given the chance to compete at the Paralympics next year will find that they do.

London 2012 is not just the Olympics, it's the Olympics and Paralympics, and I'm absolutely sure that it's not just the Olympics that will live long in the memory.



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