In 100 days time the London 2012 Paralympic Games will begin.u00a0 I am looking forward to these being the most exciting Paralympic Games yet.u00a0 We are focussing on all those thousands of final details we need to get right to ensure that, when the athletes of the world come to London, all they will need to think about is doing the performance of their lives, as we will have taken care of everything else.
If we get this right, the prize is clear, not just a great Paralympic Games, but a Games with the potential to fundamentally shift attitudes towards and opportunities for disabled people.
As an athlete I was fortunate enough to be able to compete at four Paralympic Games.u00a0 I trained for thousands of hours, over millions of metres in the pool, to pull out the performances of my life at each Games.u00a0 I was lucky enough to win 9 gold medals and break 35 world records over my career.u00a0 I am extremely proud to be part of organising the London 2012 Paralympic Games; we are all looking at how the games can be used to enable disabled people, particularly young disabled people to choose sport.
We have a rich Paralympic history in the United Kingdom.u00a0 The inspiration for the modern Games came from Stoke Mandeville in 1948, from those small acorns, 64 years later the Games returns to the UK to host 4,200 athletes from the largest number of countries ever to compete.u00a0 We have worked closely with partners across London and the country to ensure that, in 100 days time, people will be able to witness, perhaps for the first time, world class Paralympic sport, in world class venues, in a world class city.
We have an extraordinary opportunity in London, to stage a sensational Paralympic Games.u00a0 If we get this right the message is clear, a message about possibility, a message of potential, a message of hope resonating around the country and around the globe.u00a0 We want to use the spotlight of the London 2012 Paralympic Games to shine a light of hope around the globe, to include rather than exclude, to focus on the can rather than cannot, to look to the person not the preconception.u00a0 We all have this opportunity; we all have our part to play in it.u00a0 We are faced with one moment in time, with the potential to change our communities, our cities, our countries for the better forever.u00a0 It is a unique opportunity and I urge us all to take it.
In decades to come I want us all to be able to look back at London 2012 and appreciate how it made the difference and continues to make the difference, improving lives, improving nations, improving our world.
I am immensely proud that London will be hosting the Paralympic Games and I look forward to welcoming the world to the UK this summer.