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The wheel deal

By Sun Xiaochen ( | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-17 10:41

The wheel deal

Wang Yonghai participates in the 2013 Tour of Qinghai Lake. Photos by Sun Xiaochen / China Daily

An amateur cyclist has fulfilled dreams of conquering the toughest tour in China powered by only one leg, Sun Xiaochen reports in Qilian, Qinghai province.

When Wang Yonghai pedaled his bike over a 4,120-meter peak against strong headwind at the Qilian Mountains, he looked no different from the professionals in a racing troop participating in the 2013 Tour of Qinghai Lake.

The wheel deal

His carbon-fiber bicycle, fancy racing suit and aerodynamic helmet made him blend in with the pros. But what he lacks set him apart - the 42-year-old pedaled hard with just one leg.

"My bike serves as my left leg - and don't forget I have a muscular right one," Wang said with a grin on his sun-baked face after finishing the most-demanding leg of the high-altitude tour on Friday.

"It's been my dream to be able to finish the route of the tour since cycling gave me a second chance in life and I am so proud of myself that it's going to come true."

Wang's feat of touring the 2002-km route on an average altitude of 2,496 meters earned him heroic ovations from local crowds while making media headlines, but it was another long grinding journey that honed his determination to make it happen.

Losing his left leg in a car accident at the age of 19, Wang's world crashed as the once lively teenager fell into deep self-pity, convinced there was nothing meaningful left in his life.

He even refused to try to walk on crutches.

"I was totally broken inside and I felt it wasn't worth trying at that time," Wang says, recalling the tough period during which he met his wife.

The motivation to make a good living for his wife Dong Yuanxiu, who married him against her parents' will, pushed Wang to start running a pedicab business in his hometown Zhigou, Shandong province, in 1999.

An encounter with a para-cycling team training in Zhigou in 2002, the same year the Qinghai tour was launched, changed the downhearted man's life.

Inspired by the cyclists' imperfect but strong presence, Wang rekindled hopes of making the remainder of his life meaningful.

"The moment I saw them riding past me, I realized everyone could have something to live for even if you are disabled."

Following the team to the training base, Wang persuaded the head coach to recruit him after passing a physical test, where his athletic gift earned him two bikes for training.

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