Opening Ceremonies of 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships

Opening Ceremonies mark official start of 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships


January 21, 2011

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand—The Rt Hon. John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, officially opened the 2011 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Athletics World Championships on Friday in a ceremony held in Christchurch.

Taking place at midday more than 1,000 athletes from over 70 countries paraded through the streets of Christchurch as part of the ceremony from Worcester Street Bridge to Cathedral Square in the city center.

Leading the U.S. delegation of 51 athletes was flag bearer Dennis Ogbe (Louisville, Ky.).  Ogbe is a native of Nigeria and became an American citizen less than one year ago.  He was elected by his teammates to carry the flag in the Parade of Nations.

“It felt so, so good to be able to carry the American flag in Opening Ceremonies, and it’s a big honor for me, as well,” said Ogbe, who will compete in the shot put and discus events (F58).  “I was smiling the whole way. It was a dream come true.”

Upon arrival at Cathedral Square the athletes were greeted by a Powhiri, a traditional Maori welcome, before the New Zealand national flag was raised and the national anthem performed.

“Having the opportunity to represent your country at an event like this is something that never gets old for me,” said Tatyana McFadden (Clarksville, Md.). “It’s great to see all the countries coming together and I enjoyed the Maori performance.  It finally feels like the Championships have begun and we’re ready to compete.”

More than 20 American athletes open the competition on Saturday with ten potential medals up for grabs for Team USA on day one.

“I’m absolutely ready to race,” said April Holmes (Chula Vista, Calif.), the reigning world champion in the 100m and 200m (T44).  “I start with the 200m and when I wake up that morning, I’ll be excited to step on the track and showcase the talents God gave me.”

Follow the team throughout the competition, which runs through January 30, at USParalympics.org.

Additionally, the official website of the 2011 IPC Athletics World Championships is ipcathleticsworldchamps.com and online broadcast coverage of the event can be found at ParalympicSport.tv.

Please direct media inquiries to Susan Katz, susan.katz@usoc.org or +02 1221 3336 (New Zealand cell phone).