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“Tonight I simply want to thank you and each one of you for making these Games so special, so memorable and so compelling that not one of us wants them to end,” Craven said addressing the full-packed Fisht Stadium, which has a 40,000-seat capacity and hosted the closing ceremony of the Games.
“At last week’s opening ceremony, I called upon you all to have barrier-free minds. But how are your barrier-free minds feel tonight? Do you sense a greater degree of liberation whether here in Sochi, in the wider Russia or throughout the world? I certainly do!” Craven said.
“I thank you all and say with great pleasure - Sochi 2014 - the best Winter Paralympic Games ever - the Games that showed miracles know no borders.”
Craven thanked Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and Dmitry Chernyshenko, the head of the Sochi Organizing Committee, for the outstanding organization of the Games.
“These Games have gone far beyond sports competitions,” he said. “They showed what people from different countries and nationalities, different cultures and traditions are capable of, when they are united by a single goal and inspired dream.”
The thrilling show at the Fisht Stadium on Sunday night is held under the motto ‘Reaching the Impossible’ and celebrates the magnificent achievements of the Paralympic athletes, who have shown the world that impossible is possible through strength of spirit and relentless pursuit of sporting victory.
The ceremony was opened by memorable choreographed pieces performed by members of the Russian Wheelchair Dance Sport Federation together with trapeze artists in distinctive illuminated costumes and they formed abstract shapes in the air. The performance was conducted to the music of Russian composer Alfred Schnitke.
This segment of the ceremony was produced by the creative duo of Konstantin Vasiliev, a coach of the World and European champions in wheelchair dance sport, and Phil Hayes, who is the world’s renowned aerial choreographer.
After the Russian national flag was brought to the stadium and the national anthem was played, Aleksey Chuvashev, Russia’s rowing Paralympian and medalist of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London climbed a rope with his hands only to a height of 15 meters (almost 50 feet) demonstrating the wonders of strength and courage.
His climbing followed by a flamboyant performance of over 200 Russia’s dancing Cossacks with some of them with impairment.
Russia’s national team finished the country’s ever first Paralympic Games, held in Sochi between March 7 and 16, in the first place of the medals standings packing a total of 80 medals (30 gold, 28 silver and 22 bronze).