POSTED: Wednesday July 8th 2015

Renowned Paralympian Hou Bin: Beijing 2022 "means more opportunities" for China's impaired athletes

The second in a series profiling Chinese athletes in support of Beijing 2022

Hou Bin is one of six Beijing 2022 Ambassadors ©Beijing 2022
Hou Bin is one of six Beijing 2022 Ambassadors ©Beijing 2022

Hou Bin lifted himself and his wheelchair up to the roof of the Bird's Nest at Beijing 2008 ©Beijing 2022
Hou Bin lifted himself and his wheelchair up to the roof of the Bird's Nest at Beijing 2008 ©Beijing 2022

Hou Bin visits a young amputee as part of his “Stand Up Again” charity ©Beijing 2022
Hou Bin visits a young amputee as part of his “Stand Up Again” charity ©Beijing 2022

Beijing, July 8 - To deliver Beijing 2022's pledge to host an athlete-centered Games, China's top Winter Olympic athletes have played a key role in designing an Olympic and Paralympic Winter bid that prioritizes the athlete experience. As China's top Paralympian who was the last to carry the Olympic torch at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, high jumper Hou Bin hopes to once again use his personal story in 2022 to remind everyone across China, including people living with an impairment, to - as he quotes from Chinese Buddhist Master Cheng Yen - "never underestimate yourself, for everyone has unlimited potential."

In front of a crowd of 90,000 spectators at the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games - held in the iconic Bird's Nest - Hou Bin accomplished the mesmerizing feat of using his bare hands to lift both himself and his wheelchair 39 meters into the air and light the cauldron on the stadium's roof. As the International Paralympic Committee described, "it was a moment that epitomised all four of the Paralympic values of courage, determination, equality and inspiration."

With the champion high jumper requiring only three and a half minutes reaching the roof, the deed was impressive enough without the crowds below realizing that Hou Bin had actually managed the climb with a broken finger he had suffered in an earlier rehearsal!

The Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games left unprecedented human, social and infrastructure legacies. Beijing 2022 comes as an opportunity to further promote these legacies in Chinese society and to further increase the role of Paralympic sport, including Paralympic winter sports, in the life of the 85 million people with impairment in China.

Full accessibility will be a permanent feature of all Beijing 2022 infrastructure, venues and services, including in Yanqing and in Zhangjiakou, which will contribute to a better quality of life of people with disabilities in these areas and give them a chance to try themselves at winter sports.

Hou Bin has a passionate spirit that has helped him build a career by overcoming prejudice concerning the capabilities of people with an impairment. Not only is Hou Bin a three-time Paralympic champion in high jump, but he is also an explorer who has traveled to both the Arctic and Gobi desert by foot. He became the first student with an impairment to earn an Executive MBA at Xiamen University's College of Journalism and Communications and has worked as a successful public speaker who has visited 27 countries and made over 1,500 inspirational speeches in the past 10 years along.  Beyond these achievements, he even launched his own successful charity program entitled "Stand Up Again" that raises money to provide high-quality prosthetic limbs for children who were amputated as a result of injuries.

Establishing "Stand Up Again" was a personal wish of Hou Bin's for many years, and it stems back to 1996, when an overseas Chinese paid for a prosthetic leg of much higher quality than what he initially had. After receiving his "good leg," as he puts it, Hou Bin went on to win Paralympic titles at Atlanta, Sydney, and Athens. To this day, no Paralympic high jumper in the world has beaten his astonishing record of 1.94 meters. "Being on the receiving end of such generosity," Hou Bin says, "taught me the importance of helping the less fortunate." For more on "Stand Up Again," you can watch the introductory video here.

As one of six Beijing 2022 Ambassadors, 40-year-old Hou Bin has pledged to bring his inspiring personal story on board to help inspire 300 million Chinese to fall in love with winter sports, regardless of what they believe they are physically capable of:
"Hosting the Olympics - whether it is Winter or Summer - is an excellent opportunity to change people's lives for the better," Hou Bin said. "If Beijing wins the rights to host the 2022 Winter Games, it will hugely popularise all Winter sports. I truly hope that it will also provide athletes with an impairment with the confidence to participate in these events as well."

"Over the past 30 years, the sports in China have changed the lives of countless people with an impairment, in addition to their perceptions in China," Hou Bin said. "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."

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Keywords · Olympics · Beijing 2022 · Paralympics

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