The world’s top para-athletes waved goodbye to the world at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games on Sunday in Russia.
The ceremony, titled “Reaching the Impossible,” celebrated the strength of spirit and principle of inclusivity.
It was whirling, colourful affair, featuring a performance by members of the Russian Wheelchair Dance Sport Federation, as well as a high-flying group of trapeze artists in distinctive illuminated costumes sailing through the air.
Following the routine, Russia's gold medallists at this year's Games carried their country’s flag into Fisht Stadium, leading to the singing of the Russian national anthem by the Russian state children’s chorus.
The next segment of the closing ceremony recognized influential Russian painter Vasily Kandinsky, as 462 dancers in vivid costumes honoured a man widely regarded as the founder of abstract art.
The show also gave a salute to Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov. Performers used brightly-coloured 3D blocks to simulate the popular video game from the 1980s.
The dance troupe’s final act was the spelling out of the word “impossible” in large block letters, while the Mission Impossible theme song — using a Led Zeppelin hook — played in the background.
This led to the highlight of the ceremony, in which Aleksey Chuvashev, a summer Paralympian missing both legs, climbed a 15-metre rope using his just arms, and added an apostrophe to "Impossible" to make it "I'm possible."
The crowd went wild.
The Paralympians themselves then joined the proceedings, with each country’s athletes emerging from beneath the stadium into the centre of stage and marching their respective flags around the venue. Josh Dueck, the sit-skier and two-time Sochi medallist, carried the flag for Canada.
Later on in the ceremony, the Paralympic flag was lowered and given to Sochi Mayor AnatolyPakhomov, who handed it off to International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven. Craven briefly waved the flag before passing it on to the mayor of Pyeongchang, Lee Seok-Rae, whose city will host the Games in 2018.
In his closing speech, Craven expressed his gratitude towards everyone who made the Paralympic Games possible.
“Tonight I simply want to say thank you,” he said. “Thank you to each and every one of you for making these Games so special, so memorable, and so compelling, that not one of us wants them to end.”
He also made note of the strides that Russia made in opening its arms to Paralympic competitors.
“In 2007, we started this journey together, a journey that has seen Sochi transformed into a barrier-free city, and a blueprint for accessibility and inclusivity throughout Russia.”
“Thank you to President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation for showing your willingness to change, and even more pleasingly, an even greater desire to implement further change.”
He finished with a message to each of Sochi’s Paralympic participants.
“The Paralympic spirit has united and infected us all. Proud Paralympians, your inspirational athletic performances have redefined the boundaries of possibility. You have shown the world that absolutely anything is possible, and that life is about amazing capabilities, and not perceived deficiencies.”