London 2012 Paralympics begin

The first sporting events have begun in the 14th Paralympic Games.

Team SA enters the stadium, during the opening ceremony of the Paralympics. Picture: Wessel Oosthuizen/SA Sports Picture Agency.

LONDON - The first sporting events of the 2012 Paralympic Games went underway on Thursday after a spectacular R90 million opening ceremony on Wednesday evening.

The Fourteenth 2012 Games, which run until the ninth of September are expected to be a sell-out as Team South Africa look to improve on its medal tally of 21 gold, three silver and six bronze medals from the Beijing Games.

Around 4,300 competitors are battling it out across 503 events in 20 sports.

A total of 165 countries are taking part, after one of the 15 debutant nations, Malawi, had to pull out because of a lack of funding.

Visually impaired sprinters along with two guides and four officials were set to travel to London.

Malawi's Paralympics' committee blamed the country's government and potential corporate sponsors for a lack of support.

Among organisers, Lockard provided some money to fund the trip, but according to some officials form Malawi, it was not enough to send the full delegation.

Meanwhile, South Africa's team is in high hopes of building on its success from the Beijing Games four years ago, when Team SA was placed sixth on the medal table.