How come Hong Kong's disabled athletes perform so well in global competitions? The answer is simple; sweat, toil, concentration, dedication, encouragement and a sheer refusal to give up. I was fortunate to witness early evidence of the prowess of our disabled athletes 22 years ago this month when I covered the Far East and Pacific Games in Sha Tin. It was an inspiring, humbling experience. Even then, organisations like the Sports Association for the Physically Disabled were playing an active role in getting handicapped people out of their homes and hospitals and on to the playing fields and into the sports halls. It was a movement with twin inspirations. One drive was to rehabilitate people crippled by injury or disease through competitive sport. The other was to educate the public, which even as recently as 1982 commonly scorned the unfortunate in our midst. Those athletes showed they needed no pity from anyone, just the chance to play on a level playing field. The aspect of rehabilitation meant many of those involved in promoting sports for its curative powers were doctors, occupational physiotherapists, psychologists and social workers. But it was the athletes themselves who were the inspiration; they may have been confined to wheelchairs or forced to live with bones twisted by disease, but they had wills of iron. I recall standing in mute admiration of a one-legged Chinese high-jumper, watching in amazement as the Burmese javelin throwers aimed at the sound of their coach imitating a jungle bird, chatting with Australian wheelchair basketball players with arms and shoulders of a Samson and pathetic, wasted legs. It was a deeply moving sporting gala for paraplegics, the blind, those with cerebral palsy, polio or other crippling inflictions, for table tennis players with one arm and one leg and for legless sprinters in wheelchairs. It was, above all, a triumph of the human spirit. That same soaring feeling of human conquest, the defeat of awesome challenge, the victory of willpower over physical chains, can be seen every week at the Sha Tin Sports Institute where our disabled athletes train. Sabres whirl, wheelchairs spin, blind judo competitors thump on to the mats ... our disabled athletes are getting ready today for Beijing 2008.