2008 Beijing Paralympic 06/09/2008

A record 4,000-plus athletes from 147 countries and regions, 10 times the figure at the Games' debut in Rome 1960, marched into the stadium amid thundering cheers from the stands, before Chinese President Hu Jintao declared the Games open at 22:36 Beijing time.<br />
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&quot;These Games will have more athletes, more competing nations, and more sporting events than ever before,&quot; said Philip Craven in his opening ceremony speech, calling them &quot;milestones in Paralympic history.&quot;<br />
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The three-hour ceremony climaxed when Hou Bin, China's triple Paralympic high jump champion with only one leg, lit the cauldron for the Games.<br />
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With the torch on his wheelchair, the 33-year-old Hou used both hands to pull himself up along a hanging rope to the rim of the steel-latticed Bird's Nest to accomplish his laborious mission. Though suspended by wires, he had to halt and gasp for several times, with the entire crowd cheering him on loudly.<br />
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The Paralympic flame, first lit at the 600-year-old Temple of Heaven in south Beijing on Aug. 28, was relayed through 11 Chinese cities -- including ancient capitals Xi'an and Luoyang and modern metropolises Shanghai and Shenzhen -- in nine days, covering a distance of 13,181 kilometers and involving 850 torchbearers.

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