While decorating the 71 athletes, Jacques Chirac was eager to show his admiration "for their great victories".
"This is a representation of optimism and courage. It is a beautiful life lesson
you have given us, said the President.
Jacques Chirac reiterated his determination to win the 2012 Games, as previously stated on the 28
th of September with the French Olympic medallists. He underlined the "particularly
ambitious" character of the 2012 Paralympic Games project: "The issue of accessibility
has been thoroughly taken into account (...), and includes all the environment
of the Games not only the sports venues".
He emphasized that through the success of the 2012 Paralympic Games it is a wish to "increase
the integration of people with a disability into the French society". He went
on to say, "For our country, this is a national cause and, as you know, a cause
very close to my heart".
After the first ceremony, the French Paralympians met at the City Hall. The Mayor of Paris and President
of Paris 2012, Bertrand Delanoë warmly thanked the champions for their performances,
and said they were a model for French society. "The Games are the opportunity
to multiply by ten the investment Paris makes to improve accessibility throughout
the city. In 2012 the Paralympic athletes will be at the very heart of the Games",
The medallists from Athens were then taken by André Auberger, president of the French Paralympic Federation,
to the National Olympic Committee Headquarters. "This house is your house", said
their host Henri Sérandour, awarding them the medal of honour of the National
Olympic Committee. "This is a great moment of pride, your results and your behaviour
have been a great example", declared the President of the National Olympic Committee.
The 141 Paralympic athletes
in Athens won 74 medals in total: 18 Gold, 26 Silver and 30 Bronze, placing
France in 6