LONDON — Farewell, London. Good luck matching that, Rio.

Coldplay, Rihanna and Jay-Z rocked the Olympic Stadium on Sunday night to give the biggest-ever Paralympic Games a rousing send-off, wrapping up an unforgettable summer of sports in Britain.

The three-hour party at the packed 80,000-seat arena in east London gave the world a chance to celebrate 11 days of Paralympic competition that have shifted perceptions and shattered stereotypes about the disabled.

"In this country, we will never think of sport the same way and we will never think of disability the same way," said Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London organizing committee. "The Paralympians have lifted the cloud of limitation."

Central to the closing ceremony – called the "Festival of the Flame" – were the 4,200 Paralympians from 164 nations who encircled the field of play from the start, waving flags and taking in the extraordinary atmosphere. By the end of the extravaganza, they created an international mosh pit in front of the stage as volleys of fireworks rocketed above.

"I think it's been an absolute triumph from start to finish," said British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose disabled son Ivan died in 2009. "I think back to Ivan. As every parent, you think about all the things they can't do, but at the Paralympics they are superhuman, you see all the things they can do.

"It's been a golden summer of British sport."

Coming after a hugely successful Olympic Games, the 2012 Paralympics broke all records, with 2.7 million spectators cramming into venues, more than $70 million raised in ticket sales and the games broadcast in more than 100 countries. They are unprecedented figures as the British public displayed an enthusiasm previously unseen in the 52-year history of the Paralympics.

The wide exposure introduced the world to Paralympians such as Dutch wheelchair tennis player Esther Vergeer – who extended her nine-year unbeaten streak to 470 matches by winning the women's singles – and David Weir, a British wheelchair racer who won four golds in his home city.

It also enhanced the reputation of iconic South African double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who became the first track athlete to compete in both games. He won two golds in the Paralympics, including in the 4x100-meter relay which was one of 251 world records broken at these games.

"I think people are going to look back at this Paralympic Games and for the first time really, truly believe that Paralympic sport is not just inspirational, it's hard-core sport," said Pistorius, who drew a rousing cheer as his image was displayed in a montage of Paralympians on the big screen.

A moving tribute to wounded British servicemen and members of the British army opened the show. Luke Sinnott, a captain who lost both legs from above the knee in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2010, hung the Union Flag at the top of flagpole in the middle of the stadium. Rory Mackenzie, a serviceman who lost his leg on patrol in roadside bomb blast, gave a sonorous introduction to the theme of the four seasons that was at the heart of the show.

Proud flag-bearers from all competing nations marched in before a Mad Max-style parade of 25 trucks and motorcycles, in shapes that included peacocks and fish, stormed the stadium and kick-started Coldplay's set.

Coldplay frontman Chris Martin belted out top-selling hits like "Clocks," "Viva La Vida" and "Paradise."

"Nobody said it was easy," a lyric from the moving song "The Scientist," seemed particularly apt for the occasion.

Coldplay, who were given a standing ovation when they performed their final song "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall," said: "We can't actually imagine a bigger honor" than playing at the Paralympics in their home city.

Artistic director Kim Gavin created an electric production. White confetti rained down as snow, black crows on stilts encircled the stage, flaming butterflies swirled in the air and a flying motorbike driven by highwire artist Laszlo Simet with disabled dancer Lyndsay Adams powered across the stadium.

"Being at the Paralympics is the biggest honor," said Rihanna, who first appeared dressed in a flowing orange gown before changing to a see-through black top and dark sunglasses. "These athletes are gladiators and are a true inspiration to me."

She sang "We Found Love" while swinging in a chair high above the stage, a performance sure to give her insurer a heart attack.

Such was the global attraction of performing at the closing ceremony that organizers were able to turn down approaches from other major artists – but they wouldn't name names. Sunday night's stars, artists who have sold millions of records, were being paid a nominal one pound ($1.60) to play.

The ceremony finished with the cauldron – made up of 200 petals – being extinguished, ending the games in London and passing the baton to Rio de Janeiro for 2016. The handover saw Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes wave the Paralympic flag with abandon before Brazilian pop stars danced onto the stage.

Speaker after speaker acknowledged that after London, the Paralympics will never be the same.

"On Aug. 29, we opened with the theme of `Enlightenment,'" said Sir Philip Craven, president of the International Paralympic Committee. "Tonight, we are enlightened and armed with a superior knowledge of what can be achieved. The legacy of these games will be long-lasting."

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  • Paralympics

    Britain's Richard Whitehead celebrates after winning the men's 200m T42 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Brazil's Terezinha Guilhermina, along with her guide Guilherme Soares de Santana, competes during a women's 200m T11 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Australia's Reagan Wickens jumps into the swimming pool during training ahead of the men's 400 metre Freestyle S6 competition at the 2012 Paralympics Olympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

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    Djibouti's Houssein Omar Hassan races during a men's 1500m T46 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    The Britain versus Netherlands sitting volleyball preliminary match at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. Netherlands won the match. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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    Malloy Weggemann of the United States swims in the women's 100-meter breastroke SB7 heats at the 2012 Paralympics games, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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    Britain's Richard Whitehead celebrates as he crosses the line to win the gold medal in the men's 200m T42 final race during the athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Germany's Laura Darimont runs in to make a throw in the women's javelin F46 category event during the athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    United States' Blake Leeper, center,competes at a men's 200m T44 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Switzerland's Christoph Bausch rests after competing at a men's 200m T44 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Marlou van Rhijn from the Netherlands, second right, waits to be called up into the blocks before the start of a women's 100m T44 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. Van Rhijn ran a new world record in the race of 13.27 seconds. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Bronze medalist Australia's Madeleine Hogan runs in to make a throw in the women's javelin F46 category final during the athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Russia's Nikol Rodomakina pauses after finishing 4th at the women's 200m T46 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. Cuba's Yunidis Castillo, not pictured, won the race. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    South Africa's Anrune Liebenberg celebrates after finishing third at the women's 200m T46 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. Cuba's Yunidis Castillo, not pictured, won the race. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    In light from the setting sun, Tunisia's Mohamed Ali Krid makes a throw in the men's javelin F34 category event during the athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Cuba's Yunidis Castillo celebrates after winning the women's 200m T46 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Cuba's Yunidis Castillo celebrates after winning the women's 200m T46 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Mariam Matroushi of UAE runs in to make a throw in the women's javelin F46 category event during the athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    South Africa's Oscar Pistorius prepares to get in his blocks before making a start in a men's 200m T44 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. Pistorius ran a new world record in the race of 21.30 seconds. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Australia's Evan O'Hanlon, center, celebrates after winning the men's 100m T38 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Australia's Evan O'Hanlon hugs a woman after winning the men's 100m T38 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    South Africa's Oscar Pistorius prepares to make a start in a men's 200m T44 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. Pistorius ran a new world record in the race of 21.30 seconds. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Jessica Long of the United States with her gold medal during the medal ceremony for the women's 100-meter breaststroke SB7 at the 2012 Paralympics games, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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    Ireland's Michael McKillop celebrates after winning the men's 800m T37 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Ireland's Michael McKillop celebrates after winning the men's 800m T37 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

  • Paralympics

    South Africa's Oscar Pistorius adjusts his blocks before making a start in a men's 200m T44 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. Pistorius ran a new world record in the race of 21.30 seconds. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Myles Porter of the United States, top, tackles with South Korea's Choi Gwang-geun in the men's -100kg judo final at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. South Korea's Choi Gwang-geun won gold. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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    South Africa's Oscar Pistorius comes out the blocks as he makes a start during a men's 200m T44 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. Pistorius ran a new world record in the race of 21.30 seconds. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Blake Cochrane of Australia celebrates after winning the men's 100-meter breastroke SB7 at the 2012 Paralympics games, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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    Canada's Michelle Stilwell celebrates after winning the women's 200m T52 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Canada's Michelle Stilwell races to win the women's 200m T52 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    United States' April Holmes competes at a women's 100m T44 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Sarah Louise Rung of Norway celebrates after winning the women's 200-meter freestyle S5 race at the 2012 Paralympics games, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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    Britain's Claire Harvey, front, returns the ball during the Britain versus Netherlands sitting volleyball preliminary match at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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    Ellie Simmonds, right, of Britain celebrates after winning the he women's 400-meter freestyle S6 as Victoria Arlen of the United States reacts coming second, at the 2012 Paralympics games, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. Arlen placed second in the event. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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    Turkey's Kubra Ocsoy serves during her C7 table tennis semifinal match against Russia's Yulia Ovsyannikova at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London.Yulia Ovsyannikova won the match. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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    Australia's Skud crew Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch in action at the Paralympics sailing venue in Weymouth England Saturday Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo David Jones/PA)

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    Britain's Richard Whitehead celebrates as he crosses the line to win the gold medal in the men's 200m T42 final race during the athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Ivan Shkvarlo of the Ukraine, No 6 in yellow shirt, scores a goal as goalkeeper Keith Johnson of the United States fails to collect during their seven-a-side soccer game in at the 2012 Paralympics games, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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    Germany's Marc Schuh, foreground, races during a men's 100m T54 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Turkey's Cahit Kilicaslan, reacts after competing at a men's 1500m T46 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Gold medalist China's Zhang Liangmin, left, listens to her visual guide as she prepares to make a throw in the women's discus F11/12 category during the athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Czech Republic's Tereza Diepoldova, left, and China's Sini Zeng prior to the Women's Individual C1-2-3 500m Time Trial during the Paralympics at the Velodrome in the Olympic Park, London. Saturday Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/ David Davies/PA)

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    Brazil's Terezinha Guilhermina, right, along with her guide Guilherme Soares de Santana, left, poses for the photographers after competing in a women's 200m T11 round 1 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

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    Ireland's Catherine O Neill throws in the women's club throw F31/32/51 category during the athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Italy's Elisabetta Stefanini, center, runs with her visual guide Massimo di Marcello, left, beside Cuba's Daineris Mijan, right, in a women's 100m T12 category round one race during the athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Germany's Ulrich Iser throws in the men's shot put F54/55/56 category during the athletics competition at the 2012 Paralympics, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

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    Britain's Richard Whitehead gestures to the crowd after winning the gold medal at men's 200m T42 final race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

  • Paralympics

    Jessica Long of the United States swims in women's 100-meter breastroke SB7 heats at the 2012 Paralympics games, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)