Sports are not only an excellent leisure activity for disabled people, they are also a good form of rehabilitation. Playing sports allows them to discover their talent and find a way back into society. Rehabilitation through sports in Hong Kong dates back to the 1960s, when hospitals and rehabilitation centres started using wheelchair basketball and archery as part of their medical programmes. The results were promising, with beneficial effects both mentally and physically, and in 1972 the Sports Association for the Physically Disabled was set up to promote rehabilitation through sports. More than three decades on, sports are not only rehabilitating disabled people , they are taking some to top athletic levels, notably sprinter So Wa-wai and boccia - a game designed for the disabled - player Karen Kwok Hoi-ying . 'So is a very successful case. At the beginning, he could not balance himself or even do a single sit-up, but after years of training he is like everyone else,' said Sheena Liu Hoi-yan, programme officer of the Hong Kong Paralympics Committee and Sports Association for the Physically Disabled (HKPC & SAPD). So, who has cerebral palsy and a hearing impairment, started running in primary school. His talent was spotted in 1995 at a sports gala for the disabled. He was picked to train as an elite athlete and won his first gold medal in the 4x100 metres relay at the Atlanta Paralympics in 1996. He won three gold medals in Sydney (100, 200 and 400 metres) and won the 200 metres again in Athens in 2004, earning him the name 'Wonder Boy'. 'Before he started athletic training, he couldn't walk properly. Now, he seldom needs help and can take care of himself,' said his mother. Mrs So said her family was glad they sent their boy to train as a runner. 'He has achieved many records and miracles, and I'm proud of him,' she said. 'Don't be embarrassed or ashamed of your disabled child. Don't hide them from people. Sports can change their fate.' Not all disabled people are suitable to be runners, however. For those with cerebral palsy and loco-motor disabilities, boccia might be the best option. 'Boccia gives them the chance to move their hands, which aids blood circulation and slows down muscle deterioration. The strategy involved in the game exercises players' minds,' said Ms Liu. She said swimming and wheelchair fencing are other good sports for the disabled. 'Sometimes sports rehabilitate the disabled mentally more than physically. For example, for those who are afraid of going out, sports lift their self-esteem and bring a sense of confidence,' she said. 'In addition, sports give them a chance to become part of a social circle. They all face the same difficulties, understand each other's feelings better and can be more supportive. 'Sports can help them to step out of their comfort zone, and they can also be a first step for getting into society.' However, HKPC & SAPD executive director Stephen Lee said there were still many obstacles for the disabled in taking up sports, such as transport and family support. Mr Lee said his association is organising more training for the disabled, working closely with special schools and hope to discover more talented athletes.