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British sporting summer ends on grand note

other Updated: Sep 10, 2012 23:31 IST

Reuters
Highlight Story

Britain's spectacular summer of sport ended on Sunday with the Paralympic Games closing ceremony led by British band Coldplay as the Olympic Stadium once again hosted a memorable party for athletes and fans alike.

Paralympians rose and joined in with the Mexican waves inside the vast arena in east London even before the extravaganza was underway to signal the end of the 11-day festival of sport.

China finished top of the medal table, bagging 95 golds in their 231-medal haul with Russia (36 golds, 102 overall) and hosts Britain (34 golds, 120 overall) in second and third respectively.

"We've shared some wonderful days haven't we?," London Olympics chairman Sebastian Coe said to the packed stadium who gave a roar of approval.

"Days where incredible people have performed feats we hardly thought possible. The Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation."

The London Paralympics sold 2.7 million tickets in total, almost 900,000 more tickets than Beijing four years ago and the unprecedented sales brought in nearly 45 million pounds ($72.12 million), exceeding organisers' original target of 35 million.

Coe shared a story of his own at the conclusion of the British festival of sport that started on July 27 with the Olympic Games opening ceremony.

The twice gold medallist recalled a meeting on a tube train during the Olympics with a volunteer who was on duty as a doctor during the July 7 bombings in 2005 that claimed the lives of 52 people the day after London was awarded the Games.

"For me this is closure," said the doctor, named Andrew, to Coe. "I wasn't sure whether I should come or whether I could face it. I'm so glad I did, for I've seen the worst of mankind and now I've seen the best of mankind."

Coldplay's music dominated the ceremony supported by singer Rihanna and rapper Jay-Z and there was a big sigh as Craven declared the Games closed.