Chinese athlete honoured for climbing up mountain — in a wheelchair
A car accident seven years ago stripped professional Hong Kong rock climber Lai Chi-wai of his ability to walk, but it didn’t stop him from climbing a mountain that is roughly the height of New York’s Empire State Building.
The 35-year-old, who is paralyzed from the hips down, recently became the first Chinese athlete to be nominated for the Laureus World’s Best Sporting Moment of the month after he successfully scaled Lion Rock — an almost 500-metre high mountain which symbolises a “Hong Kong spirit” of persistence, resilience and unity.
The Laureus World Sports Award honours the best sportsmen and sportswomen of the year, as well as sporting moments of the month. The awards organisation was founded by Swiss-based luxury goods firm Richemont and German carmaker Daimler.
The December award went to a viral video which showed a packed sports stadium of 70,000 people in Iowa turning and waving to children in an adjacent hospital.
Hawkeye Marching Band has a new move — a giant wave to the kids.❤️ pic.twitter.com/9d5dZZCo6w
— Hawkerella (@Hawkerella) October 7, 2017
But he said he was surprised he was nominated to begin with and hoped his story could inspire Chinese people and athletes with disabilities.
“To me climbing to the top was accomplishing a dream of mine,” Lai said.
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“It also — by climbing the mountain — meant that I could show to my friends and supporters that I have overcome one of the lowest points in life: even though I’m in a wheelchair I can challenge other sports and still be able to do what I love most.”
A four-time champion of the Asian Rock Climbing Championships and the world’s first Chinese winner of the X-Game’s extreme sports, Lai climbed up Lion Rock on Dec. 9, 2016, on the fifth anniversary of the car crash.