Sir Philip Craven: From seven years to 50 days... the imminent Paralympics is a mouth-watering prospect
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
I remember seven years ago in Singapore watching my good friend, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge, open the envelope and pull out the piece of paper which read "London" and thinking "Wow!"
The fact that it is nearly here is mouth-watering to say the least.
All the Paralympic Games I have been involved in, going back to my first as a player in 1972, have been special.
However, as a proud Briton, I think London is going to be that extra bit special as the Games is heading back to its spiritual home.
Back in 1948, it was Sir Ludwig Guttmann who was responsible for kicking things off, organising the Stoke Mandeville Games (pictured below) featuring 16 injured World War Two veterans on a patch of grass at the back of a hospital.
This time round, the responsibility for organising the Games has fallen upon the shoulders of Seb Coe, Paul Deighton and Chris Holmes, the leaders of London 2012, who have quite simply done a tremendous job in bringing these Games together.
The teamwork ethic developed over the last seven years between the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and London 2012 has been excellent and I think this will certainly help come Games time.
The Games, of course, has grown significantly in size since 1948 with 16 athletes becoming 4,200 and a handful of spectators becoming a paying public of millions.
Meanwhile, the TV viewers are now counted in the billions.
The expectation for the Games has also grown.
London 2012 and its partners have done a brilliant job in building awareness, and although many still say the Paralympics will be the surprise of London 2012 I think we are heading into them with a far greater expectation than ever before.
This Games could be a landmark for the Paralympic Movement in the same way that the Stoke Mandeville Games was back in 1948.
A few weeks ago, a statue of Sir Ludwig Guttmann (pictured above) was unveiled at Stoke Mandeville and who knows what will be revealed in 50 or 60 years' time to mark the success of London 2012.
To mark 50 days to go, the IPC has announced its plans to offer the most comprehensive coverage ever of a Paralympic Games.
I know I am biased, but the plans are really impressive and will enable everyone around the world to watch live action from many sports by logging onto www.paralympic.org.
It is important that those people in territories that do not have live TV pictures are able to see the Games, and we believe through offering nearly 600 hours of live action via five online channels we will achieve this.
In addition to this, the site will also be uploading thousands of hours of video on-demand, so if you miss a live race you will easily be able to catch up.
Finally, one last word on Oscar Pistorius and his participation in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, a subject on which the IPC has faced many questions since last week's announcement.
Oscar is a great guy, a great athlete and a proud Paralympian.
The IPC's vision is all about inspiring and exciting the world, and by competing in the Olympics and Paralympics I am confident he will achieve this and help change perceptions on a global level about what can be achieved by a person with an impairment.
I wish him the best of luck for the Olympics and cannot wait to see him defend his titles in the Paralympics.
His 100 metres showdown on September 6 against world champion Jerome Singleton and new world record holder Jonnie Peacock (pictured above) could be one of the stand-out races of the Paralympics.
I look forward to seeing you all there.
Sir Philip Craven is President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and sits on the London 2012 Board.