By Rob Harris
AP Sports Writer
The Olympic rings have disappeared across London, and the Paralympic symbols hoisted in their place. Let the games begin _ again.
Thousands of athletes have already arrived for Wednesday’s opening ceremony as the Paralympics return to their roots.
The familiar face of Oscar Pistorius and his even more recognizable blades have helped to take the Paralympic movement to the masses _ with 2.3 million tickets already sold.
August has been a groundbreaking month for Pistorius.
The South African will be defending the three titles won four years ago at the Beijing Paralympics, just weeks after becoming the first amputee sprinter to compete at the Olympics.
The 25-year-old Pistorius had to contend with battles on and off the track to become the poster boy of the Paralympics, where he will be competing over 100, 200 and 400.
But Coe stressed that the medals “are not nailed on for him” at the Paralympics.
The thrilling duel should come in the 100, with Pistorius no longer the fastest man on no legs.
The “Blade Runner” experienced his first defeat in Paralympic competition in seven years when Jerome Singleton of the United States beat him by 0.002 seconds to win the 100 world title last year, while Jonnie Peacock of Britain has the world record.
Pistorius has helped shine the spotlight on the Paralympics more than ever before.
Many of the 4,200 athletes from 165 countries will parade in the opening ceremony that will celebrate the visionary doctor who conceived the Paralympics.
Ludwig Guttmann used sport in the rehabilitation of servicemen injured in World War II, and organized a hospital games at the time of the 1948 London Olympics that evolved from 1960 into the Paralympics.
And it’s a chance to raise the profile further.
That’s achieved by creating one festival of sport in the summer in London, with the Paralympics the second element, sharing the same “London 2012” branding.
But for all Craven talks about infusing “equal splendor” between the Olympics and Paralympics, there is frustration at the lack of parity with television coverage.
U.S. audiences must contend with just 5 1/2 hours of programming, with some only airing after the 11-day competition in London has concluded on Sept. 9.
But there will be widespread live coverage in Brazil, China, Britain and Australia.