West Midland athletes are making their final preparations as they go for glory at the Paralympic Games.
As the excitement from the opening ceremony featuring Professor Stephen Hawking and Sir Ian McKellen dies down, 11 days of competition are getting underway.
Nearly 4,300 athletes from 166 countries, are taking part in the event, and Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said they would change attitudes towards disability around the world.
With huge demand for tickets, the Paralympics are, like the Olympics, expected to be one of the most successful Games ever.
More than 2.4 million tickets have already been sold – half a million of those to overseas visitors. Ten thousand tickets will be available each day during the event and the Games are on course to be the first Paralympics to sell out.
London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton said: “We’ve tried to get as many people in as we reasonably can. This is a wonderful illustration of how the British public have said we love the Paralympics and want to be part of it.”
Mr Hunt said: “For many Brits, this will be the first time they have seen the Paralympic Games at all. It will be a very big moment to really change perceptions and that will be something to be proud of.”
This year marks the first time the whole Paralympics has been staged in the UK.
Paralympic athletes will compete for 503 gold medals across 20 sports during the London Games.
Former Aldridge schoolgirl Ellie Simmonds has claimed two Paralympic titles four years ago, four world crowns in 2010 and another seven at the European Championships.
Walsall-born athlete who is swimming in the S6 category said: “There has been a bit of pressure but I am able to cope with it and take it in my stride. I am going to London hoping to swim the best I can and not think about everything like that.”
Ms Simmonds, now 17, was the first swimmer to break a world record at the Olympic Park Aquatics Centre when she lowered the S6 200m individual medley mark in March.
She said: “I am going into the Games very excited but quite nervous as well. I think it is good to have nerves as they drive you forward. The biggest disappointment for me is if I don’t swim the best I can. My aim in London is not medals.”
Blues fan Katrina Hart is determined to give Birmingham City supporters something to cheer by winning sprint gold.
The 22-year-old, from Redditch, has cerebral palsy and is a member of Birmingham-based Birchfield Harriers. She said her dream was to triumph for Great Britain in the Olympic Stadium in the 100 and 200 metres.
“It’s scary to think just how crazy that would be,” Ms Hart said. “I’ve always been involved in sport so it’s always been there for me.”
There was heartbreak for Ms Hart at the 2008 Beijing Games when a hamstring injury saw her finish seventh in the 100m final and forced her to withdraw from the 200m.
Now she is determined to make up for lost time in front of her friends and family.
“I want to perform to the best of my ability, especially in a home Games,” said Ms Hart. “It will be the best experience of my life.”
Tennis player Jordanne Whiley hopes to continue a family tradition of Paralympic success.
The Halesowen-born 20-year-old’s dad Keith won bronze in the 100 metres at the 1984 Games – only for it to be lost during a bout of DIY.
Ms Whiley, who is ranked world No.12 in wheelchair tennis, said: “I have seen his medal but my mum lost it when she was decorating the house and we now don’t know where it is.
“He isn’t too pleased about that.
“They had boxed everything up and she forgot where she put it. It’s got to be around but we don’t know where. I owe it to the family to bring another one home and replace it. He always says I have to beat his bronze medal otherwise I will never live it down.”
Both Ms Whiley and her dad have the genetic condition Osteogenesis Imperfecta, usually known as Brittle Bone Disease.
London will be her second Paralympics after she lost in the first round in Beijing.
“It’s four years on now,” she said.
“I have been training hard and I am hoping to do a lot better. I am older and stronger. I have been working on my mental skills and, although it’s coming really fast, I am ready.”
Midland members of the armed forces, including some injured in the line of duty are also taking part.
Pamela Relph, 22, is in the Paralympic rowing team. She planned to commission into the Royal Engineers but due to a visual impairment she abandoned her military career and turned to rowing instead.