The wheel deal

Updated: 2013-07-17 10:41

By Sun Xiaochen ( (China Daily)

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The wheel deal

Wang Yonghai participates in the 2013 Tour of Qinghai Lake.

Without enough funds for full-time training, Wang woke up every day at dawn to ride at least 50 km in skimpy outfits on country roads before returning to run his pedicab at 9 am.

He carried out the five-session-a-week training routine for four years, despite pain and disagreements with his wife. All the efforts soon paid off.

Winning a gold and a bronze medal respectively at the 2006 National Para Games and 2007 Para-cycling Worlds in Columbia, Wang brought home an 85,000 yuan ($13,800) bonus, the biggest amount of money he had ever earned.

"As a farmer's son, I never thought I would have a chance to go that far. Adversity in life pushed me there and taught me to dream more."

Without a support team or sponsor, Wang took off his own tour of Qinghai Lake with 4,000 yuan and four suits packed on a brand-new bike, which cost him 7,000 yuan, from Xining, capital of Qinghai province.

Sticking to the same route as designed for the race, Wang overcame challenges of sharp climbs, thick fog and freezing wind but found himself stuck off the road.

Fearing that Wang's participation would distract other riders, the organizing committee ordered him not to follow and even asked him to quit at the finish line of stage two.

The stubborn Wang worked it out by starting two hours ahead of the official departure and riding close to the curb to keep the road clear for event vehicles.

"I can ride on my own but I am not here to create trouble." Wang says he understood the organizers' concerns but felt disappointed.

On the bright side, professional riders and cycling enthusiasts have hailed Wang as a role model.

Sacha Modolo, the Italian rider from Team Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox who claimed the opening stage of the Qinghai tour, says Wang's participation should be promoted.

"It's quite usual to see disabled people ride bikes in Europe, but it's rare to see in China. I was surprised to see him by chance in one stage and I think they (the organizers) should embrace him rather than worry about him. At the end of the day, people will give him credit for doing something unbelievable."

Zhang Xiaoyong, a high school student in Xining who followed Wang to circle the city before the tour, says Wang inspired him to live up to his own dream.

"Riding with him I learned nothing is impossible, if you dare to make the first step," says the 18-year-old who initiated a riding club among his schoolmates.

"I thought about riding to Tibet from Qinghai but hadn't got the guts to do it. If a man with one leg can do it, how can we easily give up our dreams?"

Accomplishing the adventure in Qinghai, Wang has already started to look ahead to another goal - the course of the prestigious Tour de France.

"Travel and the language barrier will be major issues. But when there is hope, there is a way. Life needs targets."

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