America's `Fiesta' of sport, the 2011 Parapan American Games, came to a close on Sunday (20 November) after eight days of scintillating sporting competition in Guadalajara, Mexico.
Around 1,500 from 24 countries took part in the Games, competing in 13 sports. In total 9 world, 61 Americas and 187 Parapan records were set in 280 medal events.
The Closing Ceremony took place at the Telmex Athletics Stadium, the venue for the track and field events during the Parapans. It witnessed athletes and officials from all the delegations parading as one united team in sport, friendship and harmony.
As part of the Ceremony the medal presentation for the T54 marathon took place, and the APC and IPC flags were lowered. There was also a parade of the artwork of Mexican visual artist Sergio Bustamante.
In his closing address Americas Paralympic President Octavio Londoño was quick to pay tribute to all those who made the event such a success.
"On behalf of the Paralympic family, and especially on behalf of the athletes, thank you for this, our achievement. We experienced fifteen days of hospitality and eight days of tough competitions; and we have lived the ideal of social inclusion.
"Those of us who are leaving are no longer the same we were when we arrived to this kind and beautiful city. Today, we are better human beings.
Londoño also highlighted the benefits Mexico's second city can now expect to enjoy after acting as such good hosts for such a major para-sport event.
"The world view of the people of Guadalajara has been nourished with new knowledge. Today, we know that in Guadalajara there are no barriers, no exclusion and no incapable human being. Whether it is in our imagination, in the Mexican society or in the rest of the Americas, we all have value, dignity, abilities, and talents.
"For two weeks, we have enjoyed a city is that is tuned to inclusion and there is no reason to take a step back. Today, Guadalajara is more aware and more capable than ever because it has included its own people, the rest in Mexico, our 24 participating countries, and the rest of the American continent. That is the transcendence of what has been accomplished here."
With more TV airtime across the Americas than ever before, plus unprecedented coverage across social media channels, the APC President believes the Parapans have not only helped change perceptions but provide a blueprint for future events.
"Never before have so many people tuned in to watch Paralympic sports in our continent. The digital village had more spectators in all of our nations through the social networks.
"Paralympic Sport has delivered on its full meaning: autonomy, top sports performance, elite competition, and organizational rigor.
"Now America's Paralympism has a `before' and an `after' with a future horizon of clear challenges. Guadalajara has clearly set a precedent that will guide the future direction of Paralympic sports in the Americas."
The Americas Paralympic Committee President closed by reiterating his desire for all 42 Pan American countries to participate in both the Toronto 2015 Parapan American Games and the Rio 2016 Paralympics. He again thanked all those involved in making the event a huge success and highlighted the great support offered to the athletes.
"I would like to acknowledge another great champion of the Paralympic spirit: the spectators, citizens, and children who cheered for the athletes. This public deserves the Paralympic gold.
"Thanks to the American continent, land of rich diversity where "even though we are all different, the same sun shines on all of us."
"Thank you Guadalajara, an unforgettable, generous, and inclusive city. We are forever grateful.
"Today we hand over this testimonial to Toronto, host city of the fifth Parapan American Games 2015.
"In four years, you will once again inspire and excite the world through your excellence in sports."
To see all the results from the 2011 Parapan American Games, please visit http://parapan.guadalajara2011.org.mx
photo Cheltenham jockey club
photo Cheltenham Racecourse