By Emily Goddard

Sir Philip Craven in Olympic Stadium London 2012 ParalympicsJuly 10 - Sir Philip Craven, President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), has said that 2012 was the "greatest year yet" for the Paralympic Movement following the launch of its annual report today.

The historical year, outlined in the 48-page review, saw a record-breaking 4,237 athletes from 164 countries taking part in London 2012 - what Sir Philip declared as "the best Paralympic Games ever".

Last summer's Games also drew in 2.78 million spectators and 3.8 billion cumulative television viewers in more than 115 countries helping to spread the message of the Paralympic Movement across the globe.

Social media also played a big role in this, evidenced by a global report by Twitter that revealed #paralympics topped the table for the most trending United Kingdom sport event of 2012, ahead of #olympics and many British football clubs.

Sir Philip Craven with the Queen and Prince Edward Opening Ceremony London 2012 ParalympicsIPC President Sir Philip Craven with the Queen and Prince Edward at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics in the Olympic Stadium

"In my opinion, 2012 was the greatest year yet for the Paralympic Movement with London 2012 propelling Paralympic sport into the mainstream and new audiences engaging in a new generation of household-name athletes," Sir Philip said.

"It was a year like no other, and, after taking so many steps forward, the key now is not to take a step back in 2013."

As well as London 2012, one of the biggest milestones of last year was the signing of an IPC cooperation agreement with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that means the 2018 and 2020 Paralympic Games will be held in the same city as the Olympic Games - Pyeongchang will stage the 2018 Winter Games, while the 2020 summer host city will be elected on September 7.

The report shows that the IPC remains a financially stable organisation with revenue rising by almost €3 million (£2.6 million/$3.8 million) to €10,294,026 (£8,855,229/$13,188,706), although expenditure also increased owing largely to a rise in "specific project expenditure" to leave a surplus of €4,456 (£3,833/$5,729).

London 2012 sitting volleyballMore people than ever watched the Paralympics at London 2012

Last year also saw advances achieved in classification, anti-doping, medical procedures, as well as the launch of the IPC Agitos Foundation and a new-look website, designed by its worldwide IT partner Atos, according to the annual report.

Much planning for the Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 Games was also carried out.

"It is important that all these events help us build on the Paralympic Movement's most successful year ever," Sir Philip said.

"We must all continue to enjoy working together to progress and develop our Movement for the benefit of all."

Sebastian Coe, the former chairman of London 2012, welcomed the report and admitted he was relieved that they had managed to live up to expectations fuelled by the fact the Paralympics was coming home, having owed its roots to Stoke Mandeville.

Sebastian Coe Closing Ceremony London 2012 ParalympicsSebastian Coe admitted that there was pressure on London 2012 to deliver the best Paralympic Games in history

"It's fantastic news," he told insidethegames.

"There was pressure on us to deliver the best Paralympic Games ever: we had the history, it was our history, our athletes.
"We had a head start on any other nation that has tried this. 

"The Paralympians' performance was sensational.

"I don't think people were surprised about the success of the Olympic Games but, if there was a surprise factor for people, it was the Paralympics.

"I don't think people expected to see what they saw.

"They were genuinely bowled over."

To read the full Annual Report 2012 click here.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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