If the London 2012 Paralympic Games started with a carnival of colour, they ended with one of the most spectacular shows England’s capital has ever seen.
With every athlete gathered in the Olympic Stadium, this was a shared moment to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the last 11 days.
After all the effort and emotion that has been poured into each sporting feat, the world can now reflect with pride on the accomplishments of a Games that has done so much to change attitudes and break down barriers across every country and every continent.
The resulting party was a visually stunning representation of the triumph of the human spirit.
International Paralympic Committee chairman Sir Philip Craven arrived alongside the Earl of Wessex to kick things off, before Coldplay lit up east London in extraordinary fashion.
When US pop-star Rihanna made her entrance, the noise in the Olympic Stadium reached another level.
Fans, organisers and athletes have combined to make London 2012 the most successful Paralympic Games ever.
From the unprecedented ticket sales through to the deafening support each athlete has received, people have been touched like never before.
The Paralympic Movement has its spiritual home at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and for the last fortnight the Games have demonstrated everything that Sir Ludwig Guttmann could have ever hoped for on their return to Great Britain.
When Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, passed the Paralympic Flag to Eduarda Paes, the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, he surely did so with excitement about the Paralympic Games’ future.
In his closing speech, Craven described London as “the greatest Paralympic Games ever”.
Few would disagree, and by the time Ellie Simmonds and Jonnie Peacock extinguished the Paralympic Flame there were even fewer dry eyes among the sell-out 80,000 crowd.
The Paralympic Games have left London, but the memories will stay forever.
Roll on Rio.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images