Drizzle fails to dampen athletes' spirits
By Ma Lie
China Daily Staff Writer
Updated: 2008-08-30 09:21


Wu Yaming carries the Paralympic torch on Friday along the city wall in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province. [Xinhua]

XI'AN: The Ancient China route of the Paralympic torch relay started its journey on Friday amid drizzle on the city wall of Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.

More than 600 people gathered on the top of the wall's east gate at 9 am to celebrate the start of the relay, with the torch then being carried 3 km by 70 people to the wall's south gate.

"I feel boundless honor and pride at being the first torchbearer. It is truly an unforgettable moment," Paralympian Zhang Hui, 37, said.

Zhang, who has won 10 gold medals in national and international games, and has broken the wheelchair javelin and shot put world records on eight occasions, lost her legs in a traffic accident at the age of 18.

The athlete, who is now an official responsible for disabled issues in a residential community in the city, said the Olympic spirit would encourage her to work even harder.

The authorities in Xi'an have worked hard to improve the living and working conditions of the city's 578,000 disabled people, who account for 7 percent of the local population.

"We established the Xi'an Disabled Sports Association in 1987 and successfully held our own Paralympic games in 1995, 1999 and 2003. We have three Paralympians taking part in the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games," Chen Baogen, mayor of Xi'an, said.

The relay will pass through 10 cities before reaching Beijing on Sept 5.

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