Entertainment & Arts

London 2012: Travelling Paralympic exhibition opens

Image caption Paralympian Heinrich Popow has a hand cycle race with Olympian Iwan Thomas

A travelling exhibition to raise awareness of Paralympic sports has been opened in London.

Passion for Paralympics will tour the UK and help people learn more about the technology and spirit behind the Games.

The exhibition, opened by by International Paralympic Committee president Sir Philip Craven, will involve interactive displays.

"The London 2012 Paralympic Games are set to be the best yet," Sir Philip said.

"This exhibition will give the public a greater understanding of the Games and our athletes, as well as some of the technology our athletes use during competition and their day-to-day lives."

Opened at the Science Museum, London, the exhibition gives visitors a hands-on experience of the sports, including an exhibit which enables people to feel the strength required to power a running blade.

It also looks at the relationship between how human bodies move and how their mood affects it.

Paralympic athletes attended the launch and German sprinter Heinrich Popow said the Games come at a time of change for the sport.

"When I started in 2004, I was asked questions about my story and how I work with my disabilities. It was 70% about my story and 30% about my sport," he explained.

"Now it's 80% about sport and 20% about my story. We're training with able-bodied people and we are fully professional athletes.

"I'm happy to tell my story and the strength it gives me - we need more athletes like that."

Be inspired

Mr Popow, who had part of his left leg amputated when he was eight years old, said that the exhibition is important to help people learn more about the sport.

Image caption Paralympic Boccia player Daniel Bentley visits the exhibition

"Some disabled people don't understand their own sport. We have so many different disabilities and competitions. Now is a good way to show people how it works - but we have to go step by step. We need people to explain it. We need time."

Visitors will also have the chance to take part in a handcycling race and add their speed to a leaderboard where they can compare it with other racers around the country.

"It was really interesting for me too," Mr Popow said. "I was able to use a hand bike and I've never used one before.

"I didn't know how it felt and it's a good to feel how other athletes prepare themselves.

"People will be able to get the feeling of how we handle the disability and sport, be inspired and hopefully watch our competition, and support us."

Passion for Paralympics will open to the public in Glasgow between 17 April and 9 May.

Then it will go to Manchester from 14 to 27 May before opening in London's Westfield shopping centre during the Olympic Games and at the Olympic Park during the Paralympic Games.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites