Paralympics: First day of competition under way at Games

Paralympics: First day of competition under way at Games
SHOTLIST:LONDON, AUGUST 30, 2012. SOURCE: AFPTVSOUNDBITE 1 Charles (man) (English, 11 sec):"I think people are taking it a lot more seriously - at first they were querying why you should do that, now they think it's a really good idea."SOUNDBITE 2 Katherine (woma) (English, 16 sec):"I booked a lot of tickets for the Paralympic Games, because I went to six Olympic events but I didn't get a single thing in the Olympic park, and I really wanted to see all the venues as well as the sport, so this was a way of getting to see world-class Games in the fantastic new architectural buildings."SOUNDBITE 3 Sue (woman) (English, 15 sec):"Even though it's a damp London morning, people are here and they're having a good time. And everyone's so friendly, that's the thing I've noticed - everyone is smiling and just seems happy to be here, and happy to be part of what will be something that I think will live in people's memories for ages."SOUNDBITE 4 Sue (woman) (English, 14 sec):"I just think the achievement that's being portrayed - particularly at Beijing, where people began to take notice of what was happening - and the build-up to it has been fantastic. And I think people just really care, and want to come and show their support."SOUNDBITE 5 Douglas (man) (English, 21 sec):"I think what Team GB has achieved (in the Olympics) has kind of reflected and rolled on to the Paralympics itself, and just the attitude of everyone coming up and wanting to enjoy sports, no matter who you are. I think just that inclusive attitude for everyone, I think it's made a difference and everyone's talking about it. It's a great atmosphere."-VAR crowds in Olympic Park on opening day of Paralympic Games///--------------------------------------------------------------AFP TEXT STORY:Oly-2012-Paralympics,lead Paralympics: First day of competition under way at Games by Phil Hazlewood =(PICTURE)= ATTENTION - ADDS detail, quotes /// LONDON, Aug 30, 2012 (AFP) - Eleven days of top-class sport for athletes with disabilities got under way on Thursday on the first full day of the London Paralympics, with 28 gold medals up for grabs, among them cycling and swimming. At the Velodrome on the Olympic Park in east London, five medals were to be contested in the men's and women's individual pursuit, while there were 15 finals at the Aquatics Centre after a day of swimming heats. Judo and powerlifting also had finals but shooting was set to provide the first gold, with Britain's Di Coates -- aiming for her fourth Paralympic gold in eight Games -- favourite in the women's 10m standing air rifle. The day's programme also includes heats in archery, equestrian, goalball, table tennis, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball. Britain's Nyree Kindred set a new Paralympic record in the second heat of the women's 100m backstroke S6 in 1min 27.96secs in a race that included the world record holder Mirjam de Koning-Peper, of the Netherlands. Kindred, 31, a veteran of three previous Games, won the event at Athens in 2004. The event's final takes place on Thursday evening. Among the other top swimmers beginning their gold hunt were Jessica Long of the United States and South Africa's Natalie du Toit, who is competing in seven events before retiring from the sport she has dominated for the last decade. Multiple-medallist Long is defending her 100m butterfly S8 title from Beijing, while Du Toit is out to grab gold again in the S9 race over the same distance. Britain's world record holder in the men's 100m backstroke S7, Jonathan Fox, was hoping to improve on his silver behind the USA's Lantz Lamback in Beijing. In track cycling, Australia's women were aiming to stamp their authority on the individual pursuit but will face a strong challenge from the United States and the Netherlands. But the host nation is out to emulate their Olympic counterparts, after they dominated the track cycling, winning seven of the 10 golds available, spurred on by victory in the men's time-trial for Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins. Hopes are riding on seven-time Paralympic champion Sarah Storey -- who switched to cycling in 2008 and won two gold after winning five swimming titles -- to get the team off to a good start in the C5 3km individual pursuit. "It's a big bonus for us that she (Storey) is our first rider on track because we saw in the Olympics that that momentum, from Bradley Wiggins' win, is all-important to the squad," said British para-cycling lead coach Chris Furber. "That will be great for us to get her in action on day one in arguably her strongest event." Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the Games at a showpiece ceremony on Wednesday involving more than 3,000 volunteer and professional performers, many of them with a disability, combining music, dance and aerial acrobatics. British scientist Stephen Hawking, described by organisers as "the most famous disabled person anywhere on the planet", narrated parts of the ceremony, which was aimed at challenging perceptions about disability and changing attitudes. A peak audience of 11.2 million watched the ceremony in Britain, host broadcaster Channel 4 said, four times as many as those who watched the equivalent in Beijing four years ago. phz/gj/ak
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