'Enlightenment' gala to open London's Paralympics

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Associated Press

Posted on August 29, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 29 at 2:02 PM

LONDON (AP) — Who better to help welcome the Paralympics than a scientist who has shown the world that physical limitations do not limit human potential?

"Enlightenment" is the theme, physicist Stephen Hawking the guide and Olympic Stadium the venue Wednesday night as London welcomes 4,200 athletes from 166 nations and territories to the 2012 Paralympic Games.

The extravaganza, directed by Bradley Hemmings and Jenny Sealey, will include 73 deaf and disabled professional performers and 68 disabled people among its 3,250 volunteers.

And of course, this being Britain, the words of Shakespeare will once again make an appearance: "The greatest adventure is what lies ahead."

Over the next 11 days, Paralympic athletes will compete in 20 sports, including archery, cycling, rowing, equestrian, sailing, sitting volleyball, wheelchair rugby, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball.

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