Paralympics: Umbrellas at the ready for starry ceremony
LONDON (AFP) - The London 2012 Paralympics began on Wednesday with an opening ceremony that looked to the skies, paying tribute to host Britain's achievements in understanding the universe - and its rainy weather.
The packed 80,000-seater Olympic Stadium was filled with colourful, giant umbrellas, while Stephen Hawking, the world's most famous living scientist, urged people to take nothing for granted and to look to the stars for inspiration.
The show began with a spectacular flypast over the stadium as a plane, lit electric blue and trailing golden sparks from its wings, circled overhead, piloted by a war-wounded Afghanistan veteran.
That triggered a countdown to the start of the ceremony which was greeted with huge cheers in the east London venue.