The curtain has set over the Olympic Games, and nine years of planning came to fruition in spectacular style. Now, it is the turn of the Paralympics. Chris Holmes was the man handed the task of delivering the most exciting spectacle disabled sport has ever witnessed. Holmes was given the role as Director of Paralympic Integration, in a set-up using a single Organising Committee for both the Olympics and Paralympics.
"My role is essentially to be in charge of all things concerning the Paralympics and to make sure that they are integrated throughout the Organising Committee," Holmes said. The word 'integration' is key. Many of the venues used for the Olympics are also being used in the Paralympics, or have been converted to house Paralympic sports. Holmes believes this will be an advantage during the Games. "We're using the same Olympic Park, the same stadia, the same transport so it is all about maximising the benefits of using the same stuff."
The Olympic Park and various infrastructure have undergone a quick-fire transformation, with only a two-week time slot between the Games. One of the most important transformations is the conversion of 300 vehicles, enabling them to accommodate up to six wheelchair users. "We're converting them so that teams can travel as a team and get on and off independently without any assistance," Holmes said. The organisers are also making sure the Games are fully accessable for spectators. This includes adding wheelchair spaces in the Paralympic venues to provide an accessible and enjoyable experience.
Organising an event such as the Paralympics is guaranteed to bring trials and tribulations, however Holmes strived to ensure all the small parts of the jigsaw were put together correctly. "The greatest challenge is ensuring that you focus on every single detail," he admits. "All the spectators] want is a smooth, seamless paralympic experience."
Almost 2.5 million people will gain a paralympic experience in London. The 2012 Paralympics will be the first Games that will completely sell out. Great Britain's success at the Olympic Games sparked an influx in sales and organisers were forced to release new batches of tickets every day to meet the demand.
All the Olympic commercial sponsors are also involved with the Paralympics, marking a rise in the commercial value of the Games. As well as this, London 2012 saw the top British broadcasters vying for the television rights. Channel 4 provides the most substantial coverage Paralympic Games have ever seen.
World-class athletes, top-level accessibility, packed out venues and unparalleled broadcasting should provide us with the best Paralympics yet. And Chris Holmes thinks no differently, "this should be a sensational Paralympic Games."