Record Paralympics ahead
Athletes will converge on London next week for what organisers say will be the biggest and most high-profile Paralympics in the Games' 52-year history.
A record 4200 athletes from 166 countries will be in the British capital, with the 11-day Games a near sell-out and expected to be watched by an estimated global television audience of four billion.
Britain is considered the birthplace of the Paralympic movement, after World War 2 veterans with spinal injuries competed in archery events at Stoke Mandeville in southern England in 1948, 12 years before the first official Games in Rome.
The International Paralympic Committee said that history, a desire to see more elite sport after a successful Olympics, increased media coverage and sponsorship had combined to drive up interest and awareness.
"There's a fantastic buzz in the air. People are waiting for it to kick off and talking about it," IPC president Philip Craven said ahead of Wednesday's opening ceremony.
China held the last Paralympics in Beijing in 2008 and did much to raise the Games' profile. The previous hosts won 211 medals, including 89 gold, and will be looking to replicate that success this time round.
But challenging them will be the current hosts, who came second in the Olympics medal table, galvanising wide support for the Games across the country and lifting a national mood hit by lingering economic woes.
Team Great Britain have been set a minimum target of 103 medals from at least 12 different sports - one better than in Beijing - and of maintaining their second-place finish four years ago.
For the home team, hopes are highest for athletes like Jonnie Peacock, who in June set a new T44 100m record of 10.85 seconds and is expected to challenge South Africa's Oscar Pistorius for gold in the showpiece track event. With Pistorius' long-standing rival Jerome Singleton of the US, and a host of other lightning-fast sprinters likely to line up in the final, organisers predict all eight runners could dip under 11 seconds.
In the pool, Ellie Simmonds has become a poster girl for the Games after winning two golds in Beijing aged just 13. But like Pistorius - the first double amputee to compete in the Olympics and the Paralympics' biggest star - there are other big names.
South Africa's Natalie du Toit is retiring after a decade at the top, while Matthew Cowdrey - an eight-time gold medallist - needs just three more golds to surpass athlete Tim Sullivan as Australia's most successful Paralympian.
The US Virgin Islands will have their first-ever Paralympian in rider Lee Frawley and North Korea make their debut in the competition with swimmer Rim Ju Song.
While every athlete has as much determination to overcome adversity as talent and skill, few have as remarkable a background story as Martine Wright, who lost her legs in the 2005 suicide attacks in London - a day after the city was awarded the Games.
She will be in Britain's sitting volleyball team.