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The 2012 London Paralympics

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Think London is out of the spotlight for the rest of the year? Guess again. Once the Olympics ended, the city geared up to host the Paralympics. And once again we have contributors on the ground showing you the real experience. This time our accessible travel experts Barbara & Jim Twardowski are in London checking out the Games that have more than 4,000 athletes from 146 countries competing for medals in 22 athletic events. The Games started August 29 and run through September 9, so Barbara & Jim share the history and just a few highlights from the first few days.

The Paralympics are returning to their country of origin this year and the Games are filled with a sense of history.

The Games were the creation of neurologist Ludwig Goodman, who fleed Nazi Germany and found refuge in Britain just before World War II. In 1944, the British government asked Dr. Goodman to establish the National Spinal Injury center at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire for wounded serviceman returning to Britain. At the center, Goodman witnessed the rehabilitative powers of sport while treating veterans with spinal injures.

In 1948, the doctor initiated a competition between Stoke Mandeville Hospital and The Star and Garter Home in London. Timed with with the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London, 14 service men and two servicewomen took part in these first games, now considered to be the birth of the Paralympics.

Now in 2012, four national flames from London, England, Belfast, Northern Ireland, Edinburg, Scotland, and Cardiff Wales were brought together at Stoke Mandeville Stadium to create the London 2012 Paralympic flame. All across England, communities cheered as the flames passed through their towns.  The torch relay proceeded to London and the flame arrived at the Olympic Park to open the 2012 Paralympic Games on the evening of August 29.

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Text by Barbara Twardowski for Peter