London 2012: Paralympics can 'change' public perceptions

By Jonathan JurejkoBBC Sport
Ellie Simmonds
Swimmer Ellie Simmonds is one of Britain's greatest Paralympic medal hopes

Great Britain's Paralympic chief believes London 2012 can transform the public's perceptions of disabled sport.

More than one million Paralympic tickets have already been sold with 200 days to go until the action begins.

And British Paralympic Association chief executive Tim Hollingsworth has urged fans to grasp the chance to watch less familiar sports in London.

"The Games can inspire and perhaps change perceptions of disability and its wider issues," he said.

"They can create more understanding, more awareness and more acceptable opinions of people with disabilities.

"But, more importantly, it's about sport and the world class nature of the competition and athletes.

"There are a lot of highly-entertaining sports that people would not think about watching and are unlikely to have seen."

Great Britain's Paralympians memorably won 102 medals, including 42 gold, to finish second in the Beijing 2008 medal table behind hosts China.

Hollingsworth believes the impressive haul four years ago has helped capture the attention of the British public.

He added: "I think we, as a home Games, have far and away exceeded levels of any previous Paralympics at this stage.

"That's indicative of Britain being a great sporting nation which loves to watch sport.

"It's also symbolic of the growth of the movement of the Paralympics.

"And it's significant that Team GB and ParalympicsGB made the nation proud with the success they had in Beijing."