The waiting is over for ParalympicsGB athletes to take centre stage as the 15th summer Paralympic Games officially got underway following the Opening Ceremony at the famous Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Mr Michel Temer, the acting President of the Republic of Brazil, officially opened the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games during a colourful and vibrant ceremony demonstrating the very best of Brazilian sport and culture.
An estimated 4,350 athletes from more than 160 countries are set to compete in 528 medal events across 22 sports over the next 11 days of sporting action.
ParalympicsGB have a 264-strong team in Brazil with ten-time Paralympic equestrian champion and flag bearer Lee Pearson leading the British contingent into the stadium on Wednesday evening.
Speaking afterwards Pearson said:
“That was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. I am a proud Brit and I’m even more proud now after leading the ParalympicsGB athletes out. We had such good banter before coming into the stadium, they were all so supportive and lovely.
“Now let’s crack on with the Games and show the world what we can do. It’s been an absolutely brilliant opening ceremony.”
Gemma Collis, wheelchair fencing, category A women’s epee said:
“It was amazing coming out, it’s great to see how into the Paralympic Games the people of Brazil have got.
“Everybody has been going crazy, even people outside the stadium who didn’t have tickets were shouting for ParalympicsGB which was really nice. Hopefully it’s going to be a great Games.”
David Smith, three-time Paralympic medallist, boccia BC1, said:
“It was awesome coming out and listening to the noise inside the stadium.
“It was a great atmosphere and we’re looking forward to getting on
with the Games and putting in some good performances.”
Chris Ryan, Paralympic debutant and ParalympicsGB wheelchair rugby captain said:
“Wow, it was absolutely packed when we came into the stadium. A lot of the guys were saying hello and waving to the cameras. Honestly, I was just in a massive daydream. It’s an incredible feeling. For it to be this packed is great for the whole Paralympic movement.
“The team and I can’t wait to come out into our arena in front of thousands of people. The fact that people are coming to watch our sport, that will be special.”
ParalympicsGB Chef de Mission Penny Briscoe said:
“It’s been an absolutely fantastic Opening Ceremony. The atmosphere at the Maracana has been electric.
“It’s great for the team to be here in Rio with the competition beginning shortly. The team look and feel fantastic and I know they will do us all proud over the next 11 days.”
Representatives from 14 of the 19 sports that ParalympicsGB will contest in Rio took part in the opening ceremony, all kitted out in ASOS designed official ceremony wear.
In the lead up to the Games, the ASOS design team used their expertise in celebrating individuality whilst designing for a range of body types to create the team’s formal and ceremony wear.
The designs will be worn by selected athletes, plus support staff, on formal official ParalympicsGB business.
ParalympicsGB have finished in the top three in the medal table at the last four Paralympic Games, and has been set a target of winning 121 medals at Rio 2016.
Of the team, 50 per cent are competing at their first Games and 72 per cent at their maiden away Paralympics.
Day one of Rio 2016 sees ParalympicsGB athletes in action across seven sports: shooting, table tennis, wheelchair basketball, swimming, cycling, football 7-a-side and athletics.