Week 92 (4 - 10 July 2015)
Seven years ago at the iconic Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing, the world's attention was captured by an awe-inspiring display of courage, determination and resilience when
Paralympian Hou Bin lit the Olympic flame in spectacular fashion. The 40-year-old, who lost his left leg in a train accident at the age of nine, used his bare hands to hoist himself in his wheelchair 39 metres up a rope to light the cauldron on the stadium's roof. It was one of the defining images of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and epitomised the core Olympic and Paralympic values, transforming Hou Bin into a global sensation overnight.
The Chinese high jumper, who won gold at three consecutive Paralympic Games from Atlanta 1996 through to Athens 2004, is still inspiring people today – but now it is through the power of his communication rather than his athletic ability.
Hou Bin is one of six Ambassadors for Beijing's bid to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and communicating his personal story is helping to inspire the people of China to once again rally around their capital city.
"Hosting the Olympics - whether it is Winter or Summer - is an excellent opportunity to change people's lives for the better," said Hou Bin in an interview this week.
"Over the past 30 years, sport in China has changed the lives of countless people with an impairment, in addition to their perceptions in China.
"The hosting of major sports events can further improve the assimilation of the people with an impairment into Chinese society. This is not a phenomenon that has borne fruit for just me, but rather for the entirety of those in China with an impairment. I am simply fortunate enough to represent the multitudes of athletes with an impairment whose stories of personal success and commitment move me each day. Hosting a Winter Olympics in 2022 would only mean more opportunities for these heroes to show both China and the world that nothing is impossible, and impossible is nothing."
Hou Bin has overcome prejudice and discrimination in his life but with sport as his platform and public speaking his preferred communication channel – in the past ten years he has visited 27 countries and made more than 1,500 inspirational speeches – he continues to help people with an impairment overcome obstacles through sport and sporting ideals.
Photo: Beijing 2022