August 28 - Chris Holmes (pictured) has been appointed as the director of Paralympic integration by London 2012, it was announced today, just a day before the three years to go countdown until the start of the Games.
The nine-time Paralympic gold medallist will lead on all aspects of London 2012’s planning and organisation for the Paralympic Games.
Holmes lost his sight overnight when he was 14 but still went onto study politics at Cambridge and enjoy a successful international swimming career.
He has been a Board member at UK Sport since 2005 and was a Commissioner on the board of the Disability Rights Commission from 2002-2007, as well as practicing at a leading City international law firm.
Holmes also chairs UK Sport's Audit Committee and sits on the organisation's Mission 2012 Paralympic Panel.
He is also a Patron of the "Help for Heroes" charity and the British Paralympic Association.
Prior to the 2008 Summer Paralympics, Holmes was Britain's most successful Paralympic swimmer, having won a total of nine golds, five silvers, and one bronze medal during a career which spanned the Games at Seoul in 1988 to Sydney in 2000.
His most successful Games was at Barcelona in 1992 when he won six gold medals.
Holmes said: “I am honoured to be taking up this position and it is a dream come true for me.
"My role is to ensure we continue our detailed work for a first class delivery of the Paralympic Games in 2012.
"My priorities are to educate our audiences so they understand and enjoy Paralympic sport.
"The Games offer a truly unique opportunity for our country – a chance to change Britain for the better.”
The Three Years to Go milestone was marked by a visit to the Aquatics Centre on the Olympic Park by teenage swimmer Ellie Simmonds (pictured), who won two Paralympic gold medals in Beijing last year, and Holmes.
London 2012 has unveiled a number of initiatives linked the Paralympics during the last year.
These have included the Olympic Delivery Authority publishing its Inclusive Design Strategy last year which sets out the framework for how the Olympic Park is being designed and constructed to be accessible to disabled people, detailed work on accessible venue designs, and the overlay requirements for temporary venues to ensure that disabled spectators have an enjoyable experience at Games-time.
London 2012 has also announced plans to run a Games mobility service for disabled spectators at both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, a service designed to provide assistance with spectator movement through public areas and within all competition venues.
Planning permission has been submitted for Eton Manor which will be the Paralympic tennis venue during the Games.
After the Paralympic Games it will be transformed to a hockey centre, a tennis centre and five-a-side football pitches.
London's Cultural Olympiad team will launch its third major project, "Unlimited", early this autumn.
Developed in partnership with the UK Arts Councils and the British Council, Unlimited will be the UK ’s largest ever celebration of arts, disability culture and sport.
Key priorities in the next year, London 2012 said, will be to carry on detailed operational planning on all aspects of the Games as well as develop a public awareness campaign to educate the public about Paralympic sport and help them understand and enjoy what they watch in 2012.
Sir Philip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said: " London has already manifested its high interest in creating a great Paralympic Games with various programmes for athletes and people with a perceived disability.
"Although it is still three years away, London has made clear efforts to move quickly down the path of preparation for the Paralympic Games in 2012.
"The new infrastructure that is revitalizing the Lower Lea Valley as well as accessible sporting venues are just two examples of the tremendous legacy that will remain after the Games."
Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, said: “In three years time we will be welcoming the Paralympic Games home and we will deliver a spectacular showcase for Paralympic sport.
"However, we have greater ambitions.
"This is a golden opportunity to raise awareness of Paralympic sport, challenge stereotypes about disability and secure a legacy which would see every disabled child having access to sport.
"I have been completely blown away by the performances of Paralympic athletes who were doing things that so-called ‘able-bodied’ people could not hope to achieve.
"We have always been proud to be the organising committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.
"The Paralympic Games are key to our ambitions to use the Games to be a catalyst for lasting change.
"In three years time we will be getting ready to host a spectacular Paralympic Games.
"We are proud to be welcoming the Paralympics home, and are determined to deliver a spectacular sporting showcase for Paralympic sport.
"We want to use the power of the Games to raise awareness of Paralympic sport and to challenge stereotypes about disability and to give every disabled child a chance to have access to sporting opportunities."
Phil Lane, the chief executive of ParalympicsGB said: “We are excited at the prospect of a Paralympic Games on home soil and are pleased that operational planning is progressing well.
"We are underway with our own planning for 2012 but are always looking to identify new Paralympic talent, with our next recruitment session happening at Brunel University on September 29.”