London 2012: Sports minister urges Games fans to watch Paralympics


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The Independent Online

The Sports minister Hugh Robertson is urging people to watch the Paralympics and buy tickets for the events.

More than two million tickets have been sold for the Paralympics — beating Beijing’s 1.8 million — but 400,000 are still available.

“Blade runner” Oscar Pistorius has helped spark unprecedented interest in the event from August 29 to September 9. The South African, who runs on carbon-fibre prosthetic legs, has competed in the Olympic 400 metres and his country’s 4x400 relay team and is entered for two Paralympic 100 metre events .

Mr Robertson said: “My message to the world is ‘you can see what a great Olympics we have laid on. Now come and see the best Paralympics!’ The Paralympics are smaller, friendly and more accessible — they are great for families with small kids.”

He added: “We have just experienced the best two sporting weeks of our lives. You could follow British Olympic sport from now for the next 50 years — you will never see another day when Team GB wins six golds in one day. We should not suffer Olympics Withdrawal Symptom because we have got the Paralympics to look forward to afterwards.”

Mr Robertson believes Team GB could match its extraordinary performance at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. “We can and that must be our ambition,” he said. “But of course in Brazil, we won’t have the advantage of a home crowd cheering us on.”

The sports minister, tipped for promotion in a Cabinet reshuffle, also believes London’s transport system, Heathrow airport and public services should aim to keep up the efficiency which they delivered during the Games.

The former Army officer said: “That absolutely should be our aspiration.”