Disabled racers eager for marathon

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 December, 2011, 12:00am


Local wheelchair racers are looking forward to joining other runners in the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon in February.

'It's been years since Hong Kong had a full marathon where handicapped racers could use the same track as non-handicapped runners, and I'm happy I qualified,' said Fung Ying-ki, 31, a gold-medal fencer in two Paralympics Games.

The last time the marathon was set up for wheelchair racers was in 1998, and Fung placed third.

Fung lost the use of both legs as a youth when a virus damaged his spinal cord. He has recently learned to stand again, and says he has tricked his leg muscles into walking, although they remain numb.

Fung and Lee Kwok-yin have been training hard for the event.

Lee is a former Paralympic field athlete who will participate in the 3-kilometre race. He lost his ability to walk because of polio. Lee, 49, has competed in several marathons, and has a personal best time of 2 hours and 52 minutes.

Fung said he had been training up to five times a week since January. 'The route of the marathon in Hong Kong is unique, with lots of winding terrains and slopes,' he said. 'I have been training specifically for them.'

As for Lee, he has been busy building up the strength of his arms.

Asked about whether he had a time record in mind, Fung replied: 'I just hope to be able to complete it. Psychologically it will be difficult, because you promise yourself you will finish it.'

There will be four local wheelchair participants and four from overseas for the full marathon, while 30 local wheelchair racers will participate in the 3-kilometre race.

'If the event is successful, I know a lot of people who would be interested in taking part in the following year,' said Fung.