By Tom Degun

Sir Philip_Craven_in_Beijing_2008August 29 - Sir Philip Craven (pictured), President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), told insideworldparasport that London 2012 will offer a golden chance to get more people with disabilities involved in sport.

With the 2012 Paralympic opening ceremony taking place exactly three years from today, the IPC are determined to make the most of the unique opportunity of being involved so closely in the biggest sporting event on earth. 

Sir Philip told insideworldparasport: "It is important that there are facilities in place for those who want to participate in our sport.

"We have to ensure there is easy accessibility for people with disabilities to play sport in venues that are local to them."

Sir Philip views it as imperative that the London 2012 Games are used as a catalyst to inspire people across Britain to get involved in sport regardless of their disability.

He said: "Not all countries get the opportunity to host a Paralympic Games and we must make the most of it.

"We must get our message out there to make sure that the British public are knowledgeable and comfortable about the Paralympics by the time we get to 2012.

"The Australians [at the 2000 Sydney Games] took to the Paralympics like a duck to water.

"The Chinese did a fantastic job of getting the public excited about the Paralympics in Beijing.

"We must follow their example in getting everyone excited about the London 2012 Paralympics."

There is no doubt in Sir Philip’s mind that the Paralympics are a truly spectacular event as he made an inspiring statement about Paralympians saying, "a Paralympic athlete doesn’t focus on what part of your body doesn’t work, they focus on what does."

The IPC President, who is one of three Britons who are members of the International Olympic Committee and is also a Board member of London 2012, said that preparations for the Games in the capital are going very well and that the three-year countdown to the opening ceremony of the Paralympics marks an important milestone for the city.

He said: "Things really start revving up with the Games just three years away.

"We are doing very well and are ahead of schedule and I am sure that if we can keep it up, the London Olympics and Paralympics will be a tremendous event."

Sir Philip also said that London and everyone involved in the Paralympics will not soon forget the contribution of Stoke Mandeville.

The Paralympics were born in Stoke Mandeville in 1948 and returned there in 1984, where Sir Philip competed in them as a member of the British wheelchair basketball team, one of five Paralympics he took part in and which he recalled as his favourite.

He said: "The Paralympics owes a huge debt to Stoke Mandeville and that will always be remembered."

Sir Philip, who retired after the Seoul Paralympics in 1988, claimed that you do not need to compete in London 2012 to be a part of the huge excitement that the Games will create.

He said: ‘In 2012, the buzz is there whoever you.

"Whether you’re an athlete, an official or a spectator, you will be a huge part of the Games and sample the great spirit of them."

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