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Athlete in wheelchair ready for next challenge

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-11-20 08:04
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Participants in wheelchairs respond to cheers from spectators during the 2017 Shanghai International Marathon in November 2017 at the Golden Bull Plaza on the Bund in Shanghai. [Photo by Yan Daming/China Daily]

XI'AN-Staring straight ahead, puffing out his cheeks while spinning his wheelchair toward the finish line, 58-year-old Guo Guangdong attracted a lot of attention along the 2020 Xi'an Marathon route. Nobody knew who the man in the yellow T-shirt was, but everyone was cheering for him, "A16560! Go get it!"A16560 was the number on his running bib.

Guo finished the race in a time of 3:17:21 but he was not satisfied with the result. The next day, Guo started his daily marathon training as usual.

Without any coach or supervisor, Guo treats his hobby seriously and always wants to challenge himself to make the best of it. At 6 am sharp every day, nothing can stop Guo from going for a 15-kilometer training stint."This is how I get along with myself after being physically disabled," Guo says.

Nineteen years ago, Guo encountered bad weather while flying a paraglider and ended up crashing into a mountain, leaving him paralyzed and unable to feel anything from the waist down.

It was truly devastating, but Guo managed to hold up. "I know that I won't be able to stand again. It's the reality," says Guo. "Life goes on no matter what happens. You'll have to learn to live with it and move on with strength."

With this optimism, Guo learned to drive without using his feet, and went for road trips in Europe while traveling to Sanya and Tibet several times. Guo has made the impossible possible along the way.

Guo's passion for sports also gives him the courage to face what's to come. "Nothing bothers me when I do sports. I feel like I can go as far as I want," Guo says as he smiles.

Guo used to be a basketball player before the accident and he didn't give it up afterwards. As he grew older, Guo took up marathon running instead and challenged himself with a full marathon in his first ever race. "I was really surprised with the result," says Guo."I thought it would take at least 4 hours but I finished the race with a time of 3 hours and 26 minutes."

Taking part in an average of 15 marathon events annually, Guo has become an icon for other runners in wheelchairs."I want everyone to know that if I can get everything done without limitations, so can they."

As he trains for two upcoming marathon races in November, Guo has set a goal of breaking 3 hours."I might be getting old, but I'm getting better at the same time," says Guo.

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