GLOBAL superstars Coldplay, Rihanna and Jay-Z headlined the closing ceremony of the London Paralympic Games last night, in a celebratory concert rich in noise, colour, machines – and fire.
The British supergroup provided the backdrop to a three-hour extravaganza interspersed with music and dance at the Olympic Stadium in east London, belting out hits including Clocks, The Scientist and Yellow.
"Being asked to play at the Paralympic closing ceremony in our home town is a huge honour," lead singer Chris Martin said.
The band, who have sold more than 50 million records worldwide, accepted a fee of £1 (R13) to headline the show.
They were joined by rapper-producer Jay-Z and Barbados star Rihanna for a festival-themed show watched by 80000 spectators in the stadium and millions worldwide on television.
"These athletes are gladiators and a true inspiration to me," the Umbrella singer said.
Warriors on roller-skates, a cast of 1336 volunteers from around the world and more than 50 drummers were also among the performers in a show with themes ranging from military sacrifice to the changing seasons.
The next Paralympic hosts, Rio de Janeiro, also provided a taste of 2016 with a colourful segment featuring "dance battles" between performers of different styles.
The ceremony kicked off with a procession of fire jugglers and drummers carrying blazing beacons while fireworks explodes over the stadium in the final minutes.
It rounded off a spectacular season in Britain as the Olympic Stadium once again hosted a memorable party for athletes and fans alike.
Paralympians rose and joined in with the Mexican waves inside the arena after the end of the 11-day festival of sport in which China finished top of the medal table.
They bagged 95 golds in their 231-medal haul with Russia (36 golds, 102 overall) and hosts Britain (34 golds, 120 overall) in second and third respectively.
The South African team ended the games with 29 medals — eight gold, 12 silver and nine bronze.
"We've had the most extraordinary summer of sport," London Olympics chairman Sebastian Coe said.
The London Paralympics sold 2.7 million tickets in total, almost 900000 more than in Beijing four years ago and the unprecedented sales brought in nearly £45-million (R590-million), exceeding the organisers' original target by £10-million (R130-million).
The added coverage and interest was felt everywhere – Alan Oliveira's shock defeat of Oscar Pistorius in the 200m final even eclipsed the football coverage in Brazil, said IPC chief executive Xavi Gonzalez.
Pistorius said after his 400m win on Saturday that the Olympics and Paralympics in London had been "the biggest highlight" of his life. – Reuters, Sapa