FULL TEXT: Sir Philip Craven's closing ceremony speech
Thanks Russian President Vladimir Putin for 'showing a willingness to change'
CBC Sports Posted: Mar 16, 2014 2:53 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 16, 2014 2:53 PM ET
Below is the full transcript of the speech given by International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Paralympic Winter Games on Sunday:
Athletes, officials, distinguished guests, Paralympic sport fans from all over the world,
Dobriy vecher! (Good evening!)
Tonight, I simply want to say thank you.
Thank you to each and every one of you for making these Games so special, so memorable and so compelling that not one of us wants them to end.
In 2007 we started this journey together; a journey that has seen Sochi transformed into a barrier-free city and a blueprint for accessibility and inclusivity throughout Russia.
Thank you to President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation for showing a willingness to change, and even more pleasingly, an even greater desire to implement further change.
Thank you to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak for your unfaltering seven years of support.
And thank you, of course, to Dmitry Chernyshenko and the Sochi 2014 organizing committee for delivering a Games that have smashed many records and broken down even more barriers.
At last week’s opening ceremony, I called upon you all to have barrier-free minds.
But how are your barrier-free minds feeling tonight?
Do you sense a greater degree of liberation whether here in Sochi, in the wider Russia or throughout the world? Well I do I can tell you.
The Paralympic Spirit has united and infected us all.
Proud Paralympians, your inspirational athletic performances have redefined the boundaries of possibility.
You have shown the world that absolutely anything is possible and that life is about amazing capabilities and not perceived deficiencies.
With record numbers of highly enthusiastic spectators supporting you all, you have shown what real grit and determination looks like. Through record TV audiences and media coverage, you have opened up the eyes of the world to what the human spirit can achieve.
I want to congratulate Olympic Broadcasting Services for their scintillating imagery and we all must pay special thanks to the extraordinary alpine, biathlon and cross country skiing course preparation staff and volunteers.
But what of the Sochi 2014 volunteers? No matter what the weather, you have always melted our hearts with your most natural of smiles.
High five to the volunteers - die pyat volonteru.
Together with the athletes, the staff and the officials, you really are the Sochi 2014 Change Makers.
I thank you all and say with great pleasure - Sochi 2014 – the best Paralympic Winter Games ever – a Games that showed miracles know no borders.
Finally, the time has come for me to declare the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games closed and I call upon Paralympic athletes from all over the world to meet again in PyeongChang, Korea, in four years' time, where once again, you will inspire and excite the world with your sporting excellence.
Spasiba Sochi, spasiba Russia, spasiba the world.
Spasiba, spasiba. (Thank you, thank you.)