Disabled runner So hopes to inspire young athletes
Veteran disabled runner So Wa-wai hopes his long-term dedication to his sport will inspire young athletes to achieve the same level of international success as he has.
The 30-year-old sprinter has qualified for the London Paralympics, one of the five Hong Kong athletes who have gained direct entry to the Games. It will be his fifth appearance in the Paralympics, having first won a gold medal in Atlanta in 1996.
'I have a strong passion for running and hope the younger generation can learn from my achievements,' said So, who has been representing Hong Kong for more than a decade. 'I want to show them that if you work hard, you can be as successful as me.'
Since his first gold medal in the men's 4x100 metres relay at the Atlanta Games as a 15-year-old, he has collected five more Paralympic gold medals - one in the 100m, three in the 200m and another in the 400m.
Now the veteran has set his sights on at least one more in London.
'My targets will again be the two sprinting events, especially the 100 metres because I lost my world record in the United Kingdom Disabled Grand Prix Meet in Liverpool last month,' he said. 'I want to do better than what I did in the Beijing Games [where he won gold in the 200m and a bronze in the 100m].'
Training three hours a day, five times a week, So is now in his final preparation for the London Paralympics, which will run from August 29 to September 9.
Hong Kong Airlines, the official sponsor of the Hong Kong delegation to the Paralympics, is offering a one-year free trip for the athlete who captures a gold medal in London.
'I don't want to think too much about this,' said So. 'I only want to focus on my performance and the rest are all bonuses.'
The Hong Kong Paralympic Committee will announce their squad on Sunday, which will comprise more than 20 athletes from eight sports, including athletics, equestrian events, swimming, table tennis, wheelchair fencing, shooting and boccia, a sport similar to bocce modified to disabled athletes.