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Paralympics set to leave lasting impression on London (+video)

The Paralympic Games have proved remarkably successful, not just in tickets sold and prominent media coverage, but in making London into a city more accessible to disabled people.

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The Paralympic Games officially come to a close in London Sunday night, and it’s already clear that the event has had a profound – and perhaps lasting – impact on both the city and its residents.

“The Paralympics have captured our hearts and minds,” London Mayor Boris Johnson said on Wednesday, adding that the success of Britain’s Paralympians “provides us with new heroes to emulate.”

One-armed athletes, one-legged athletes, and athletes using wheelchairs have been grabbing headlines and gracing the front pages of British newspapers since the track cyclist Sarah Storey won the host country’s first Paralympic gold on the opening day of competition.

Since then, the good news has just kept coming: The British team is currently second in the total medal count, behind China but ahead of traditional sporting heavyweights like Russia and the United States. More than 2.7 million tickets have been sold, the most in Paralympics history.

“The public response to the Games has been incredible,” Sophie Morgan, a TV sports anchor, wrote in a column in the Independent, one of Britain’s most-read newspapers. In a reference to Britian’s official Paralympics broadcaster, she added: “I'm not surprised that Channel 4 has had record viewing figures. I didn't expect it, but I did hope.”

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