Paralympic milestone marked

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Sunday 29 August 2010 marked exactly two years to go until the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, with organisers calling on the UK public to start planning their Games to ensure they don't miss out.

The Paralympic Games in the summer of 2012 will see elite Paralympic sport take place over 12 days, with more than 150 nations competing in 20 Paralympic sports. There will be 500 sporting events across 21 disciplines taking place in 20 different competition venues in London and across the UK. LOCOG Chair Seb Coe commented: " There are two years to go until the London 2012 Paralympic Games which will be a truly memorable festival of elite sport. We've been designing and building the venues and raising the money to stage the Paralympic Games, now we want the public to decide how they will spend the summer of 2012. Whether it's buying a ticket, becoming a volunteer, being part of our education or culture programmes or cheering on the Paralympic Torch relay–there are many ways you can get involved. Don't wait–to ensure you don't miss out, start planning your Games now. " There are many ways the public can get involved and be part of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Over 1. 6m people have already registered their details on www. tickets. london2012. com with particular interest among young people in Goalball and Boccia. The London 2012 Games Maker volunteer programme launched on 27 July 2010 and pre–identified specialist volunteers such as doctors, anti–doping personnel and scoreboard operators have been applying over the last month. Around a third of the 70, 000 London 2012 Games Makers will help stage the Paralympic Games. Those interested in volunteering roles can go to www. london2012. com/volunteering to find everything they need to help them decide if they have what it takes to be a London 2012 Games Maker. The volunteering programme is inclusive and applications are welcome from across all communities. Deaf and disabled people are actively being sought. Initiatives happening all over the country are giving the UK public plenty of scope to plan how to get involved. With London 2012's education programme 'Get Set' now reaching over 14, 000 schools, young people across the country are engaging in activities and projects linked to Paralympic sports and values in preparation for the Games in 2012. The Cultural Olympiad will culminate in the London 2012 Festival, a 12–week festival in the summer of 2012 that runs through to the last day of the Paralympic Games. Disabled artists are already gearing up for this amazing celebration with over £400, 000 from a £1. 8m commission fund already committed to the first 10 commissions for Unlimited, the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad project that enables disabled and deaf artists or disability arts groups to create high quality work. Over 440 sports participation and cultural projects that are accessible for disabled people have received the Inspire mark, the badge of the Inspire programme which recognises projects and events from across the UK that are inspired by London 2012. To celebrate two years to go to the Paralympic Games LOCOG's director for Paralympic Integration and Britain's most successful individual Paralympic swimmer with nine Paralympic Games Gold medals, Chris Holmes, joined the London 2012 Paralympic mascot Mandeville at the ParalympicsGB training camp in Bath to view the progress of top UK Paralympic athletes in the preparation for the Games. On Monday 30 August Mandeville appeared at the official London 2012 shop in Kings Cross St Pancras station to launch the new Mandeville product range. Mandeville then paid a visit to John Lewis' flagship store on Oxford Street in the afternoon to meet public and celebrate the two years to go countdown. The London 2012 mascot website is hosting an online competition to promote Paralympic football. The Mayor of London Boris Johnson was joined by gold medal winning Paralympic athletes and partner BT to celebrate the two year countdown in Trafalgar Square, which was turned into a Boccia court for a showcase of Paralympic sport. Channel 4, the Paralympic Broadcaster in the UK, marked this countdown by launching its Paralympic programming. Youth show T4 was based next to the ParalympicsGB training camp for the entire weekend featuring music, features and interviews with Paralympic athletes, and on Sunday 29 August the documentary Inside Incredible Athletes profiled seven athletes, all of whom are hoping to represent ParalympicsGB in 2012. Sainsbury's, the Tier One Partner of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, revealed famous Paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds as its first Paralympic ambassador. The swimmer has been signed up to act as an ambassador for Active Kids for the next three years, will help raise awareness of the scheme up to the Paralympic Games and beyond. The double gold medalist will appear in Active Kids advertising and will also attend Active Kids events. Sainsbury's also launched Mandeville products at 78 stores across the UK to promote the London 2012 Paralympic Games. In addition to the regular toys, a total of 2, 012 limited edition Mandeville soft toys, which come in an exclusive box, have also gone on sale, with 1, 200 being sold at Sainsbury's. Hugh Robertson MP, Minister for Sport and the Olympics said: " Preparations for the Paralympics are well on track. The athletes are training hard; Mandeville is educating children across the country about the Paralympic movement and disabled artists are making their mark through the Unlimited programme. Now is the time for the Great British public to get on board and decide how they are going to get involved with the Paralympics. There will be millions of tickets available for spectators, but volunteers are also crucial to the Games' success. We need skilled and passionate people who have the commitment to make 2012 the best Olympic and Paralympic Games ever. " Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: " London is hugely excited to be hosting the Paralympic Games and we are all working hard to ensure they will be an unparalleled triumph. Earlier this week I was given a lesson in Boccia by some of our finest Paralympians and was simply blown away by their dedication and intention to do us all proud in 2012. London will celebrate these inspirational athletes and their fans like never before in 2012. Now is the time to plan this once in a lifetime experience, whether it's registering for tickets or signing up to become a London Ambassador and helping to ensure all visitors during the Games get the finest of welcomes. " Phil Lane, CEO of ParalympicsGB, said: " Seeing over 160 athletes gathered together at our first major preparation camp brings it home that the Games are only two years away. We're planning very hard to make this our strongest team, capable of making the nation proud in 2012. Now we want the whole country to plan how they are going to get involved in the Paralympic Games, be it through volunteering or signing up for tickets so that they can cheer on these athletes who are working so hard to represent ParalympicsGB. " ODA chief executive David Higgins added: " With two years to go until the start of the Paralympic Games, the venues and infrastructure needed for the world's second largest sporting event are on schedule and within budget. The Olympic Park has changed the skyline of east London and although there is still a lot of work to do, we are on track to finish the venues by next summer. Our approach to design and construction across all buildings, open spaces, parklands, infrastructure and public transport means that we will be able to go further than any previous Olympic and Paralympic Games in making the Olympic Park welcoming and easy to use for everyone. After the Games, the most accessible and inclusive public park and sporting venues in London will be left for the local communities to use for generations after. " Maria Miller MP, Minister for Disabled People, said: " With two years to go we want everyone to get involved in the Paralympic Games in some way and fully support LOCOG's drive to make sure disabled people benefit from the opportunities provided by London 2012. We'll be working with disability organisations to ensure that disabled people are getting the support and information they need to become volunteers at the Games and create the lasting legacy that the Games will bring. ","43

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