By Nick Butler

The Closing Ceremony sought to prove that the impossible is possible ©Getty ImagesMarch 16 - Never have the Paralympic themes of unity and achievement been more on show than during the Closing Ceremony of Sochi 2014, which paid homage to the notion of the "impossible being possible".

Although the Paralympics began under a cloud of political controversy following Russia's military intervention in Ukraine, once again it was sporting values of achievement, diversity and unity which came to the fore.

Tonight's Ceremony epitomised these themes and, after a classical beginning incorporating wheelchair and aerial dancers, the music of the film "Mission Impossible" was heard as the London 2012 medal winning rower Aleksey Chuvashev climbed a 15 metre high rope using only his hands. 

The arrival of the Flagbearers offered another chance to pay tribute to the athletes who have lit up Sochi during the Games. 

Among their number was Ukraine's medal winning skier Lyudmyla Pavlenko - who entered the Fisht Olympic Stadium with the words "peace" written on her top in the night's only reference to the events in Crimea.

Ukrainian Flagbearer Lyudmyla Pavlenko enters the stadium with the word peace written on her jumper ©Getty ImagesUkrainian Flagbearer Lyudmyla Pavlenko enters the stadium with the word peace written on her jumper ©Getty Images

Following this there was further evidence of the "New Russia" that the organisers have worked so far to convey through both the Olympics and Paralympics.

After a section paying tribute to the video game Tetris, invented in the host nation, the Ceremony was highlighted by a dance-routine performed by a combination of Cossack and Paralympic break dancers that fused Eastern and Western culture, as well as the old and the new. 

The onus was then passed to Pyeongchang 2018 who produced a more memorable segment than during the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games - highlighted by Seok Chang-woo, an artist with prosthetic arms, painting the shapes of the five Winter Paralympic sports on the stadium floor in an image entitled "A Journey Together".

In a break with convention, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak gave one of the two speeches instead of Sochi 2014 President and chief executive Dmitry Chernyshenko, and this was followed by the re-emergence of the same giant ship seen during the Opening Ceremony.

The Paralympic Flame was then extinguished as fireworks went off outside the arena and dance music was heard within it, before a stadium announcer declared the Ceremony closed with a reminder to "join us again at Pyeongchang 2018".

The Paralympic Flag was passed to Pyeongchang at the end of the Ceremony ©Getty ImagesThe Paralympic Flag was passed to Pyeongchang at the end of the Ceremony ©Getty Images

As well as thanking athletes, fans, residents, workers and everyone who had contributed to the Games, Kozak - who has been involved since Sochi was awarded the event in 2007 - claimed "these Games have shown what people from different nationalities are capable of and they are united by a single goal and a shared dream".

Similar sentiments were reiterated by Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), as he thanked Russian officials, including the onlooking President Vladimir Putin, as well as broadcasters, athletes and volunteers who have "melted our hearts with your most natural of smiles".

"In 2007 we started this journey together - a journey that has seen Sochi transformed into a barrier free city and a blueprint for accessibility and inclusivity throughout Russia," he said. 

"At last week's Opening Ceremony, I called upon you all to have barrier free minds.

"But how are your barrier free minds feeling tonight?

"Do you sense a greater degree of liberation whether here in Sochi, in the wider Russia or throughout the world?

"I certainly do - the Paralympic Spirit has united and infected us all."

Unlike International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach during the Closing Ceremony of last month's Olympic Games he then ranked Sochi 2014 in comparison with other Games, concluding with the words: "I thank you all and say with great pleasure - Sochi 2014: the best Paralympic Winter Games ever - a Games that showed miracles know no borders."

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