We Run HK: Blind runners Fearless Dragons' secret to winning
Blind athlete Mok Kim-wing's club forges a unique partnership with the deaf to reach every finish line
Though he lost his eyesight as a teen, Mok Kim-wing has never relinquished his vision to make life better for the disabled.
Despite his blindness, Mok has always been a runner and has long promoted the sport in Hong Kong’s disabled community. But it was the founding of the Fearless Dragons running club three years ago – a unique partnership between blind and deaf runners – which has seen him take his dream for the community to a new level.
As part of the Fearless Dragons, the 49-year-old social worker has run many marathons around the world. Last year he ran the Kyoto Marathon and raised HK$200,000 for the local disabled.
Together with his deaf partner, Eric Yeung Yuk-wing, he aims to complete this year’s Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon within five hours.
"I was blind in one eye from the age of six. Then when I was 13 a classmate hit my other eye, causing retinal detachment. Unfortunately, the operation failed and I became completely blind," Mok said.
"I have learned to accept my fate. The experience has given me courage to take on new challenges."
The Fearless Dragons running club’s motto is “can’t hear, can’t see, can marathon”.
"The deaf runner leads and is the 'eyes', making noises to make the blind runner aware of any obstacles. The blind runner is the 'ears'; he will tap the deaf runner’s arm to alert him if he hears something from behind. We have volunteer 'guide runners [who are not visual- or hearing-impaired] who run with the pair. They are our invisible heroes," Mok said.
"In this bond, we are equal. We support each other and we each have the opportunity to give. When we cross the finish line, we have a sense of achievement far greater than that of an ordinary runner."
Fearless Dragons running club will have 34 disabled runners taking part in the this year Hong Kong Marathon.
"We run to raise public awareness of the needs of people living with a disability. But it’s more than that – I run to show more disabled friends that they can take on challenges and showcase their spirit of never giving up'.
"Running is very different for a blind runner. As you can’t see, you don’t know how far you have run. Sometimes that makes you feel desperate. You feel scared because you don’t know if the road is flat or if there are obstacles in your way, like stones or an uneven path. This is why the partnership works so well.
"I run twice a week; it’s the fun in my life. After training we chat and have something to eat. Running a marathon is not only about how long you run but the depth of your experience; persistence, resilience and friendship are key. Whether you are disabled or not, the finish line is waiting for everyone," he said.
"If I didn’t run, I would not have experienced life as fully as I have. The most rewarding thing is crossing the finish line; it’s a marvellous experience."
Watch: The Fearless Dragons in 2012