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Page last updated at 14:08 GMT, Wednesday, 17 September 2008 15:08 UK

Paralympic baton passed to London

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Video - Spectacular end to Paralympics

The Mayor of London has received the Paralympic flag as Beijing extinguished its flame in the Bird's Nest stadium.

International Paralympic Committee chief Philip Craven hailed Beijing 2008 as "the greatest Games ever" during a moving, colourful closing ceremony.

London 2012's double decker bus made a second appearance alongside wheelchair basketball star Ade Adepitan.

British organisers offered "youth and zest" for London's second handover, featuring a new generation of talent.

Once again, the Beijing organisers produced a ceremony packed with light, sound and choreography, lapped up by a capacity Bird's Nest audience.

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Video - Team GB exceed expectations

Thousands of leaves and petals fell from the sky on a still, clear evening in Beijing, exploding into a feast of colour.

Craven paid tribute to "the best ever Paralympic villages, a never-ending and self-generating supply of passion and emotion, superb organisation and wonderful volunteers" in his speech.

He hailed "millions of new Paralympic sports aficionados both here in China and around the world".

They have delivered for us - now we must deliver for them, and for all disabled Londoners and visitors

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, pays tribute to GB Paralympians
Twenty-five students from the Harrow International School in Beijing sang the British national anthem to launch London's Paralympic handover ceremony.

London Mayor Boris Johnson took the Paralympic flag from Craven and Guo Jinlong, Mayor of Beijing, to signify the beginning of London's term as host city.

Adepitan, bronze medallist in Athens, led the double decker into the stadium along with Gareth Picken, a nine-year-old wheelchair gymnast and competition winner on Blue Peter.

Drummer Cherisse Osei emerged from the bus on an elevator followed by Sam Hegedus, dressed as Lord Nelson on a column, but replacing the customary eye patch and sword with sunglasses and a guitar.

Petals fall on dancers inside the Bird's Nest
Colourful petals and beautiful choreography dazzled the crowd
Even a tea lady made an appearance in a handover devoid of the stars which marked London's part in the Olympic closing ceremony several weeks ago.

"Our segment was a statement of intent that our Games will be inspiring and fun, and get the whole world involved," said London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe.

Johnson earlier said he was "lost in admiration and awe for the achievements of the British team".

"They have delivered for us - now we must deliver for them, and for all disabled Londoners and visitors," he added.

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Video - Pistorius stunned by Beijing games

"Beijing gives us a superb challenge and a fantastic platform to go forward. We will work to make sure London is the most accessible Games ever."

The British team are expected to arrive back at Heathrow Airport on Thursday.

Celebrations are taking place in Britain to mark the handover, with Stoke Mandeville hospital - which hosted the first Games for wheelchair-bound athletes 60 years ago - open for students to attend a special ceremony.

Up to 5,000 schools around the UK are holding similar celebrations, with some hosting Paralympic sports days.

PARALYMPICS BLOG
Tanni Grey Thompson
The ParalympicsGB team hit their medal table target in Beijing, winning 42 golds to finish second behind China.

Britain won 102 medals overall, nowhere near China's 87 golds and total of 207, but ahead of the US, Ukraine and Australia.

Cyclist Darren Kenny takes home four gold medals and a silver, while swimmer Dave Roberts also won four golds, taking him to a career total of 11 Paralympic medals.

Lee Pearson won three equestrian golds, and GB's youngest team member, 13-year-old swimmer Eleanor Simmonds, claimed an astonishing two gold medals to become Britain's youngest ever individual champion.

"I think by anyone's standards our performance has been impressive," said British Paralympics chief Phil Lane.

"Athletes such as David Roberts, Darren Kenny and Lee Pearson have reproduced their performances from Athens which is exceptional," he added.

"A dozen others have won two golds, and for a 13-year-old to win two golds is fabulous."

Britain's medal haul eclipses the team's Athens performance, where GB claimed 35 golds and 94 medals in total.

Dave Weir with gold medal
Dave Weir was Britain's only track gold medallist at the Paralympics
A total of 80 British athletes return home as Paralympic medallists, though just one athlete - wheelchair racer Dave Weir - managed to win gold on the track.

Weir's hopes of five Paralympic golds were hit by a virus early in the Games, but he won his T54 800m and 1500m events.

"Dave came through in the end and he should be happy with his Games," former wheelchair racing star Tanni Grey Thompson wrote on her BBC Sport blog.

"But British athletes here have found out on the biggest stage how the world is moving on, and when they go home they need to decide whether they are going to try to aim higher, or leave it to others to take on that mantle."

The Paralympic bar was set by Canadian wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc, South Africa's Olympic swimmer Natalie du Toit and Australian swimmer Matthew Cowdrey, all of whom won five golds.

South Africa's Oscar Pistorius, dubbed "Blade Runner" for his sprinting performances on modified carbon fibre blades, completed a track treble on Wednesday with 400m gold, following wins in the 100m and 200m.

see also
GB's Woods misses marathon medal
17 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Weir storms to second Games gold
16 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
GB basketball team clinch bronze
16 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Pool star Roberts to carry flag
16 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Coe hopes to follow Beijing lead
16 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Roberts fails in record medal bid
15 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Simmonds makes history with gold
08 Sep 08 |  Paralympics
Du Toit powers way to fifth gold
14 Sep 08 |  Paralympics


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
This Day Online China Adds Paralympics to Beijing Triumph! - 4 hrs ago
The Independent London bus back again as Paralympics begin journey from Beijing - 10 hrs ago
CHINAdaily Beijing passes Paralympic host baton to London - 19 hrs ago


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