Today, more than 4,200 athletes from 166 countries will gather to kick off the London 2012 Paralympics
that run through September 9. With ticket sales on track to top 2.5 million, this year's Paralympics Games are set to be the biggest in history and RFE/RL provides multimedia highlights and a handy fact sheet
from our various broadcast regions.
# AZERBAIJAN - Ilham Zekiyev was wounded in battle and lost his eyesight while serving in the Azerbaijani military
. Since recovering from his injury, he has become a world-class judo fighter, winning European and world championships and two Paralympic Games. He is now aiming for another gold at the games in London.
# BOSNIA - Members of Bosnia's Paralympic volleyball team think they have a good shot at a medal, but the team has had a rough road to the games
, with insufficient time for training and a difficult schedule once they arrive.
# GEORGIA - Thirty-year-old weightlifter Shota Omarashvili was born with limited use of his legs. His father joined the military with the aim of getting better health care for his son and died in the 1992-1993 war in Abkhazia. Now Shota has recovered from a series of operations
to become a Paralympic contender.
# TATARSTAN - If there was a gold medal given for inane civic engineering for the disabled, Kazan would bring it home with what could possibly be the worst wheelchair access ever
# UKRAINE - The largest Ukraine Paralympic delegation ever
will participate in 12 of 22 sporting disciplines, and includes the first disable Ukrainians to compete in cycling.
Speaking of cycling, Kazakhstan's legendary cyclist Alexander Vinokourov
recently came back from retirement to take a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics. In an interview with RFE/RL, the 38-year-old athlete discusses his doping scandal, his work with a new generation of Kazakh cyclists, and his longtime rival Lance Armstrong.