A Skipton woman was the inspiration for Lord Coe’s “last word” of London 2012.
Emily Yates, 20, was central to the speech at the Paralympic closing ceremony on Sunday, watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world.
The former pupil at South Craven School and Skipton Parish Church Primary, was one of several thousand “Games Makers” - volunteers who helped make the Games possible.
In his speech, Lord Coe said the “Games Makers stand among the heroes of London 2012” and specifically mentioned Emily along with Andrew Smith, a doctor who was on duty during the terrorist bombings that hit London in July 2005.
Paying tribute to Emily, Lord Coe said: “I met Emily - a Games Maker at the Paralympic Games. She talked of what the Games meant for her and what participating in wheelchair basketball means to her. ‘It has lifted the clouds of limitation,’ she said.
“So Andrew and Emily, I am going to have the last word. Thank you, thank you, to you and all the volunteers.
“In this country, we will never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way. So yes, the Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation.”
Emily, who suffers from cerebral palsy and has been in a wheelchair since the age of nine, said: “It’s all been very crazy since I found out about it, but I must have made a good impression.”
Emily, who now lives in London, was not watching the closing ceremony at the time and had no idea that she would be mentioned in Lord Coe’s speech.
“It was a little bit crazy because suddenly, I had loads of texts coming through asking if I was the Emily that he mentioned in his speech. After hearing that he quoted what I said and watching it afterwards, I realised I was the Emily.”
She said that she made the comments during a press conference attended by Lord Coe.
Emily’s story was picked as one of the top 50 moments of London 2012 by the Independent newspaper Emily, who has been playing wheelchair basketball since the age of 12, was responsible for being part of the warm-up team for wheelchair fencing at the Paralympics.
“I was in the lounge when the athletes came in an hour before competing and then they would come in after with all their medals.
“We had to make them as comfortable as possible,” she said. “It was such a great atmosphere. One day, I got the chance to escort one of the teams into the Excel Arena.”
Although Emily said she would like to play Paralympic wheelchair basketball, she said: “Realistically you’ve to sacrifice so much. They have to train at least 20 hours a week, but I like to do other things.”
However, she said the Paralympic Games served as a great inspiration to all athletes. “The Paralympics make you want to improve your performance and it inspires you to be a better sportsman. Basketball is the only sport I’ve tried, but the Paralympics has opened my mind to doing other disability sports.”