Paralympic heroes to compete in Hong Kong Marathon

Sprint relay team who took gold in Atlanta take on 10km race to raise money for young athletes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 11:33am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 January, 2014, 3:59am

Four Paralympic relay gold medallists are preparing to take part in this year's Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon to raise money for young athletes hoping to qualify for Rio 2016.

"We're hoping more Hongkongers will support our local Paralympians," said So Wa-wai, 32, a veteran disabled runner. "But we also want to promote sports culture and show that sport is for everyone."

So and his former 4x100m relay teammates Chan Shing-chung, 45, Chao Kwok-pang, 48, and Cheung Yiu-cheung, 50 - all of whom have cerebral palsy - will compete in the 10-kilometre version of the race on February 16. They aim to finish in under an hour.

Chan, Chao and Cheung retired as athletes in 2003. They expect the race to be a challenge, and have been training for it since December.

"We've always been short-distance runners. So, for us, running a marathon is quite different," said Cheung. "I'm feeling the pressure, and feeling my age."

Cheung said he planned to clock up at least 20 to 30 kilometres a week in the lead-up to the race.

So said he would be happy if he got through the race without injury, because he will be competing in the 6th Fazaa International Athletics Competition in Dubai soon after.

So was just 15 when the team won gold in the 4x100m relay at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, United States.

Now, the team are reliving some of the excitement.

"The training we're doing now makes me think of that time, and all our preparation for the Paralympics," Chan said.

They have set up a fund-raising page on the official Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon website.

Their goal is to raise as much money as possible for the Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled. They hope the association can subsidise more disabled athletes to take part in more competitions so that they have a better chance of qualifying for the 2016 Paralympic Games.