(ISN) – The record-breaking Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games have been named as the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) top moment of 2014.
Since 12 November, the IPC has been counting down its top 50 moments of the year and on Wednesday 31 December announced that Sochi 2014 was its number one.
The Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympics exceeded all expectations, attracting a record 316,200 spectators and a cumulative global TV audience of 2.1 billion in 55 countries.
Nearly 550 athletes from a record 45 countries took part, with hosts Russia topping the medals table.
Stand-out performers included Russia’s Roman Petushkov, who won a record six Nordic skiing golds, and Anna Schaffelhuber, the German sit skier who won five gold medals from five events.
“Sochi 2014 broke all ticket and TV viewing records and the blueprint that was created in terms of accessibility in Sochi is now being rolled out across Russia,” said IPC President Sir Philip Craven.
“The performances of the para-athletes were mesmerising; they continue to astound not just myself with what they can achieve but millions of others around the world.”
Arguably the biggest impact the Games had was on the Russian government and Russian society. Sochi’s election as host city in 2007 led – for the first time – to Russian authorities and society paying attention to the issue of inclusion, and creating accessible environments for all.
New legislation was passed at the highest levels of Government, and the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee created a barrier-free infrastructure, ensuring that everything built for the Games was accessible for all.
Sochi is now a blueprint for the rest of Russia, with 200 cities already using what was created for the Games as a guide for furthering their own accessibility.
The lives of millions of Russians will be permanently improved and enriched.
Dimitry Chernyshenko, the Sochi 2014 President and CEO, said: “The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games have reinforced Russia’s commitment to social advancement. In preparation for the Games and Sochi’s continued development into a world class tourist destination, we set new standards for urban planning and development to improve the lives of people with a disability in Sochi and across the nation.”
Of the top 50 moments, 12 were related to the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, including three which made the top five.
In 2013, NBC signing up to broadcast the 2014 and 2016 Paralympics was named the number one moment, whilst in 2012 it was Italian hand-cyclist Alex Zanardi’s success at London 2012.
The top 10 moments from the IPC’s top 50 are as follows:
1. Sochi 2014
2. NBC broadcast Sochi ice sledge hockey gold medal match
3. IPC’s 25th anniversary
4. Petushkov wins six Sochi golds
5. Young para-swimmers dominate Europeans
6. Australia win wheelchair rugby world title
7. Ukraine compete at Sochi 2014
8. Rehm breaks long jump world record
9. McKeever’s amazing Sochi comeback
10. Japan dominate wheelchair tennis