Review of the year- Top ten Paralympic moments

By Emma Bird.   Last Updated: 18/12/12 1:30pm

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The London Paralympic Games were always about challenging the perceptions of disability; changing the way people view Paralympic athletes.

The Games had the power to change attitudes, expressing that it was the sport which was the focal point, rather than the disability.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Lord Coe said: "To the athletes I say, you will hear us. The enthusiasm for these Paralympics is extraordinary. The crowds will be unprecedented. These will be Games to remember."

He wasn't wrong. The London Paralympics provided the world with scenes of elation, pride and passion. There were so many moments of poignancy yet each one was unique.

The journeys which the athletes had travelled in order to reach the 2012 Games were astonishing and awe-inspiring. The stories which were told caused many a tear to fall.

Yet in the end, the Paralympics delivered. The focus was the talent and skill of the athletes; the sport was top class at every stage.

Our top ten was a difficult task to compile but here are the moments we think created the finest ever Paralympic Games in London this year.

Jonnie Peacock

Jonnie Peacock produced one of the most magical, memorable moments of the entire London Games as he sprinted to glory in the T44 100m.

The lower-limb amputee gathered the crowd's phenomenal support and held it close to his chest as he ran the race of his life.

At 19-years-old, Peacock was the youngest athlete competing in the final, setting a new Paralympic record to win the gold medal in 10.90 seconds.

His performance was so solid that one of the strongest contenders for the title, Oscar Pistorius, could only finish in fourth place.

David Weir

The 'Weirwolf' as he became known pushed his body to the absolute limits in London as he left as the greatest wheelchair racer of all time.

The 33-year-old won a stunning four gold medals as he added victory in the T54 marathon to his titles already secured in the 800m, 1500m and 5,000m events.

At times, he looked absolutely exhausted yet he continued until glory was his. With his quadruple gold medal haul in the wide range of events, his strength as an athlete was continuously highlighted.

Ellie Simmonds

The poster-girl of the Paralympic Games, Swansea swimmer Ellie Simmonds, did not disappoint at the Aquatics Centre, as she took home four medals.

Simmonds, who was born with achondroplasia, remained her bubbly, upbeat self throughout the entire competition, soaking up everything going on around her yet remaining completely focused on her events.

She won her gold medals in the S6 400m Freestyle and SM6 200m Individual Medley, with a silver in the S6 100m Freestyle and bronze in the S6 50m Freestyle.

Her consistency in the pool and her love for her sport was never more evident than this summer.

Derek Derenalagi

What a story this man has. Having lost both his legs to a bomb in Afghanistan as a solider, Derek Derenalagi reached the Paralympic Games this year competing in the F57/58 discus event.

Regardless of the fact he did not make the final, it was how he had overcome the odds to even be in London which was the remarkable feat.

Having been declared dead five years ago, Derenalagi tugged on the heartstrings of every single person watching him in the Olympic Stadium or on the television.

Along with the many other Paralympians, he will remain an inspiration to people across the world. Having been at rock bottom, he knew which way was up and along with the army's Battle Back program, he made it to London in 2012.

A medal simply did not matter. Derenalagi just being present did.

Blind long/triple jump

Getting a small group of people to be silent can sometimes be an uphill struggle, yet getting 80,000 people to hush would normally seem a pointless challenge.

Apart from at the Paralympics. The masses stopped what they were doing and watched amazed as they witnessed a sport unlike any other.

The vast amount of admiration and respect for the athletes in the F11 long jump and triple jump events sent tingles down the spine- how was this sport possible?

There was also laughter and an amazing sense of humour from competitor Li Duan of China, who liked to involve the crowds before he took his run up.

He lined up, remaining in his training trousers before ripping them off quickly and then asked the crowd for silence, which they duly obliged to.

Remarkable scenes and a remarkable athlete.

Oscar Pistorius

The South-African 'blade-runner' created history at London 2012, as he was the first double-amputee to compete in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Having battled for the right to compete against able-bodied athletes, Pistorius took his place on the track for the 400m event during the Olympic Games.

That wasn't about medals; it was about challenging perceptions of ability.

Following this, he may not have had the most successful Paralympics, losing in the 100m and 200m, yet he powered through to win the T44 400m final - the last event at the Olympic Stadium.

He did so by setting a new Paralympic record of 46.68 seconds, confirming his status as one of the world's best Paralympic athletes.

Richard Whitehead

Team GB's Richard Whitehead clocked a world record time of 24.38 seconds at the Olympic Stadium, to win Paralympic gold in the T42 200m.

The marathon world record holder was not able to race over the longest distance in London due to classification issues and therefore the sprints were his focus.

The British star has completed a spectacular 24 marathons since 2004, and yet when he turned to the 200m, he made it look easy. Although he had a poor start, he soon found his rhythm and stormed through to take the top spot on the podium.

Hannah Cockroft

Given the nickname, 'Hurricane', Hannah Cockroft was one of the brightest stars in London as she picked up two Paralympic gold medals.

The bubbly athlete won the sprint double in the T34 100m and 200m, with the former being Britain's first track gold of the Paralympic Games.

The wheelchair racer did not just win her races but she pulled off such dominant victories, finishing more than two seconds clear of the field in the 200m, with a Paralympic record time of 31.90 seconds.

Alex Zanardi

The story behind Alex Zanardi's journey into hand-cycling has been an emotional one, with the ex-Formula One driver overcoming many obstacles en route to two Paralympic gold medals this summer.

Zanardi took the titles in the H4 time-trial and H4 road race at Brands Hatch.

It meant the Italian had secured two wins at the Kent circuit; the sporting venue where he previously competed as an F3000 driver.

After he lost both his legs in a horror crash in 2001, he turned to handcycling and received the highest accolade for his commitment to returning to sport with two Paralympic titles in London.

Sarah Storey

Officially Britain's most decorated female Paralympian, Sarah Storey's phenomenal sporting career was topped this year in London.

Having won 11 gold, eight silver and three bronze medals throughout her long career, with swimming previously her sport before switching to cycling in 2005, Storey's success continued in 2012.

She has now competed in six Paralympic Games and in front of a home crowd in the capital she certainly did not disappoint, with four gold medals from four events - two on the track and two on the road.

Just how far Storey can continue to push herself in the world of sport is unknown but after London, anything is possible.

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