Hong Kong Sports Institute

Paralysed Hong Kong rock climber up against Federer, Nadal and others for international sports award

Lai Chi-wai nominated for Laureus World Sports Awards best sporting moment of the year for being first wheelchair-bound person to climb to top of Lion Rock

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 December, 2017, 10:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 December, 2017, 4:37pm

A paralysed Hong Kong rock climber has been nominated for a prestigious international sports award alongside world-renowned athletes tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

In 2011, Lai Chi-wai, then a professional rock climber, was paralysed from the waist down after a car accident. Despite the setback, he picked himself back up and became the first wheelchair-bound person to climb to the top of Lion Rock, five years to the day since his accident.

“I want to show others the ‘Lion Rock Spirit’ – as long as we devote ourselves fully, nothing can stop us,” Lai said.

His lofty mission was nominated for the Laureus World Sports Awards best sporting moment of the year. Lai was the only Chinese nominee in the category.

Other contenders include the highly acclaimed Laver Cup tennis match in September when long-time rivals Federer and Nadal joined forces for the first time on the same side of the court. Their interaction and eventual victory were commended by the selection panel.

Another contender, South Africian surfer Chris Bertish, was nominated for his marathon effort across the Atlantic Ocean on a stand-up paddle board. It took him 93 days and two million strokes to sail the 4,050 nautical miles, according to the selection committee.

Paralysed athlete starts new career as motivational speaker after Lion Rock climb

First held in Monaco in 2000, the annual Laureus World Sports Awards honours the most remarkable sportspeople along with their achievements. There are eight categories: the year’s best sportsman, sportswoman, team, breakthrough, comeback, disabled sportsperson, action sportsperson and sporting moment.

Previous winners include Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, American swimmer Michael Phelps and Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic.

Fans around the world cast their vote for their favourite candidate in a global online poll on the Laureus website. Anyone aged 18 and above can vote. The poll closes on January 2.

“The competition is very fierce. I really need everyone’s help,” Lai said in a Facebook post, urging the public to vote for him.

“This award is about how to use sports values to influence others and bring change to society,” he added. “It’s very close to my views. I would like the world to know how Asians and Chinese are influencing the world.”

According to Laureus, the award “identifies the moment from the calendar year which has most resonance with sports fans around the world” and symbolises “the true values of sport and [brings] to life the message that sport has the power to change the world”.

The awards will be presented in Monaco on February 27, 2018.