Not even a mountain the size of The Empire State Building stops some wheelchair users from reaching their goals.
Hong Kong-based climbing pro Lai Chi-wai has hit the headlines over a year after conquering the summit of Lion Rock, a mountain that overlooks his home city, having hauled himself almost half a kilometre from ground level while strapped into his wheelchair.
This is an achievement that anyone would be proud of. But one which Lai managed in spite of injuries he sustained back in 2011 as a result of a car crash which left him without the use of his legs.
Laureus World Sports Award Nominee
Footage of Lai training for and eventually completing this challenge was nominated as part of the Laureus World Sports Award in the category of Best Sporting Moment. Lai may not have taken top prize, but accepting a second-place finish in the awards, he said that the real achievement was getting to the top of Lion Rock.
Its technical difficulty as a climbing route is amplified by its symbolic importance to the people of Hong Kong, as the peak represents both their historic hardiness and collective power. He explained that his goal was to prove himself after the accident and show that being in a wheelchair is not a hindrance when it comes to achieving lifelong dreams, whatever form they might take.
Dedication and Determination
Lai has plenty of other firsts to his name, including having won a medal at the X-Games in the US before any other athlete from China. He said that ideally his actions will be an inspiration to others across his home country and the rest of the world, showing what people with disabilities can do with a little dedication and determination.
Disability not a barrier to sport
Sport England say that while the number of people with disabilities taking up sport has risen significantly, there still remains barriers. One of the biggest barriers often lies within the person themselves, believing that they can no longer participate in sport. However, the Paralympics and other disabled sport events continue to show that a disability should not hold a person back.
While climbing may not be everyone’s preferred sport – there are countless other sporting activities to explore. Just two examples are sailing and skiing. Sailing has become an increasingly popular and accessible sport, with charities like the Jubilee Sailing Trust providing opportunities for those with disabilities to learn new skills and get out on the open water.
Skiing has also risen to prominence, fuelled by the popularity of the Winter Paralympic Games. Some specialist holiday operators will have packages that cater to this pastime for those wheelchair users who want to get out on the slopes.
Why don’t you take up a new sport this year?