Wheelchair Racer Promotes Accessibility in Shanghai Marathon

November 15, 2017
Editor: Hewater Liu

It was the first time in 22 years that wheelchair racers were invited to attend the Shanghai International Marathon held on November 12. Among the participants was 29-year-old Lin Wenchao.

Lin was diagnosed with polio when he was a kid. He started his first marathon five years ago and has fallen in love with the sport, signing up for races nationwide since then.

"Running is a human instinct. I feel like I'm returning to nature when doing a marathon. I feel no different from others and am accepted by society," said Lin.

Lin cherishes every chance to participate in marathons and to communicate with other racers, since far too often game organizers will reject him. He never gives up, though, and even tries to change the situation.

After being refused by the organizing committee of the Beijing Marathon two years ago, Lin, together with his friends, launched an online campaign, named "From Zero to One", to call for accessibility for wheelchair participants in the game.

They started a picture-relay activity in Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like app, and Wechat Moments. Eventually, the awareness on social networks brought about changes to the Beijing Marathon.

In the past two years, Lin has attracted much attention. There are many online news stories and pictures of him participating in various marathons.

"I hope people will pay more attention to the disabled who love sports and are longing for freedom," Lin said.

After years of running, Lin made lots of friends. He also set up a running group; most of the members are wheelchair runners.

The team attends marathons in many places including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing, Gansu and Moscow.

From 2016, with the support of One Foundation, a charity organization in China, Lin organized a barrier-free walk across the country that attracted 543 attendees its first year and 1,563 in 2017.

"Accessibility is like a pair of shoes for disabled people who love sports. It can help us run faster in cities," said Lin.

(Source: China Daily)


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