Yesterday Rhianna, Jay-Z and Coldplay brought the curtain down on what was the biggest and best attended Paralympic Games in History. Paralympic sports have gone mainstream.
Watching these games was a revelation to so many with every event turning up mind-boggling feats of human perseverance, athleticism and belief. Every day we were witness to how the impossible becomes possible through the commitment of some of the world's finest athletes. Swide chooses for you some of the stars of the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
Iliesa Delana, Fiji, F42 high jump
The pictures of 27-year-old Fijian called Iliesa Delana clearing the bar to win the F42 high jump were one of the iconic images of the Paralympic Games, F42 (all the events were categorised with a letter and number adding a sort of futuristic/cyborg air o them) is the high-jump for single leg amputees. Claiming Fiji's first paralympic medal he was ailed as a hero and inspiration by the country's president. Delana didn't miss the opportunity to highlight how f he had to walk to training as he couldn't afford bus fair. A stark reminder of the barriers to many of these athletes who come from countries with little or now paralympic funding and a wake-up call for us all, illustrating the awesome levels of belief, courage and will that these athletes represent.
Dave Weir, GB, long-distance wheelchair racing
Probably the greatest wheelchair distance racer of all time, these PAralympiv Games belonged to David Weir. Winning four gold medals in the 800m, 1500m and 5000m and the marathon Weir has become a superstar in his native Britain. Despite the exhaustion of having reached gold over nine days he was like a man possessed for the marathon and destroyed the field. Apparently fueld by drinking hundreds of litres of beetroot juice (which is high in carbs, protein and sodium, but low in calories), 'The Weirwolf' displayed a jawdropping athleticism and upperbody strength.
Ellie Simmonds, GB, swimming
Destined to become one of the faces of the Paralympic Games, Ellie Simmonds was well-known to the British public when she one two gold medals in the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008 as the youngest ever to do so. Her media friendly personality, her charm and modesty saw her become one of Britain's most beloved sports personalities. This games she cemented her reputation as a fearsome competitor and brilliant swimmer. Winning two golds and a bronze at these games her golden moment came when she surged at the last to beat American rival Victoria Arlen, who had previously been banned from the competition as her disability was not deemed severe enough. Arlen's appeal was upheld but both rivals did their talking in the pool. Embracing afterwards, Ellie's tears of joy touched not only Britain but the whole world.
Patrick Anderson, wheelchair basketball
Regarded as the best wheelchair basketball player of all time Canadian Anderson didn't disappoint on the greatest stage of all. Hit by a drunk driver at the age of 9, Anderson lost both his legs below the knee, however he went on to become a star both on and off the court. The 33 year old failed to confirm whether this would be his last Games but in Canada's gold-winning match against Australia, Anderson was sublime scoring 34 points, pulling dow 10 rebounds and completing eight assists. He has been an ambassador, an innovator, a mentor and inspiration to many, many disabled and able-bodied people the world over.
Alex Zanardi, Italy, Handcycling
The former Formula 1 driver and two-time CART champion lost his legs in a racing accident. He since returned to racing and more recently took up handcycling with the express desire to compete in the 2012 Paralympics. Winning gold in the men's road time trial H4 Zanardi jumped off his handbike, kissed the ground and waved the handbike over his head. Here is a man that is exuberant and insatiable, there seems to be not a trace of anger or resentment for what has happened to him. Only a desire to achieve, having already claimed his intention to return to car racing for the 2013 Indianapolis 500. A true inspiration.
Matt Cowdery, Australia, swimming
Born with part of his arm missing Matt Cowdery has never let it hold him back. He won 5 gold medals in London and is Australia's greatest paralympian of all time.'Education is really the biggest part of what the Paralympics are aboput', he said. 'To change mionds, top change people's opinions about what a disability means...that you can achieve things, whatever you want , and not only sport, outside of it as well.'
Ryley Batt, Australia, wheelchair rugby
Wheelchair rugby was definitely one of the highlights of this Paralympic Games and Ryley Batt owned every minute he spent on court. The badass Australian tore up the opposition wheeling over them, into them, crashing his chair about with absolute disregard for his own or anyone else's safety and was mesmerising to watch. Chewing up an average of eight tyres a game and with numerous pit stops for welding repairs this sport is the 'Thunderdome' of paralympic sport and Batt is Mad Max.
Alan Oliviera, Brazil, running
Providing the biggest shock of the whole Paralympic Games by beating 'Blade-runner' Oscar Pistorius in the T44 200m final. Pistorius didn't react well and filed a complaint with the authorities claiming that Oliviera's blades were too long. Ironic considering Pistorius took the IOC to court when they ruled that his prosthetic limbs gave him an advantage over able-bodied athletes, an appeal he won which opened the door to the Olympics in London. The shorter blades used by the South African enabled him to compete in the Olympics against able-bodied athletes. Oliviera, ever gracius, simply shrugged it off and said he was disappointed that his idol was unhappy. Brazil have their Paralympic hero to inspire a new generation before the next event in Rio in four years
Ricardo Steinmetz Alves, Brazil, blind five-a-side football
The captain of the Brazil 5-a-side blind football team posesses dribbling skills that would mesmerise even sighted players. By leading the Brazil team to the gold medal the team remain unbeaten in any blind football matches since the event was introduced in 2004. A staggering record and sure-fire winner on home soil in Rio 2016 to come.
Esther Vergeer, The Netherlands, wheelchair tennis
Flagged by Swide as one of the athletes to watch the Dutch champion took gold in a queenly dominant display of tennis. Not only is her physical proewess on the court impressive, she does everything with a surprising grace at time seeming to go in any direction in her wheelchair seemingly effortlessly.
By Hugo McCafferty