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A True Olympian
August 20 2008

Olympic cyclist

He wasn’t exactly an Olympian to start with, but he definitely had the Olympic spirit in him. What else could have spurred him to assemble a bicycle with 5 rings in the shape of the Olympic rings, and cycle more than 100km from the neighboring city of Tianjin to join the Olympics?

It was my first day joining the world in Beijing for the Olympics. Handed with scores of recommendation, I proceeded to visit the Beijing National Theatre(also known as the bird’s egg), where the best cultural performances were held. The Olympics added to the excitement by attracting many world-class musicians to grace the stage of the egg. Not wanting to miss out on any of the action, I was desperate to get inside, but it was yet another full house. ‘Just too bad’ I thought to myself. As I milled around the complex looking for miracles, I saw some thing really amazing. The Olympics rings were moving! Theres someone on top! Wasting no time, I dashed towards it.

He was an amazing character whom I had the chance to meet while outside the national theatre. His name was Fang Zhong Lin, 47. A bicycle parts importer/exporter by occupation, his burning desire to participate in the Olympics in one way or another led to this beautiful work of art on his bicycle, which is also a green creation by the way. Besides having the five Olympic rings, he also incorporated a DVD player and a pair of portable speakers to the bike, featuring a short home-made film on the prelude to the Beijing Olympics.

Spending more than 4000+ RMB on the bike alone, it was no mean feat for the average Chinese. That was as good as 4 times the monthly salary of the average working-class Chinese, and it must have come with some sacrifice. Made entirely with recycled materials and powered with(solar/pedal power), the bicycle was representative of his support for the environment and a green Olympics. He even had the words ‘lue se ao yun’ or Green Olympics written on various parts of his bicycle, most notably his wheels.

Utterly impressed, I took many photographs of him and posed for a photo together, honoured to be in the same frame as this man, who dared to dream and do whatever it takes to attain his dreams. I would say he has succeeded and has my utmost respect, even though some of his recounted stories reflect different sentiments. At other places, like the Olympic venues at the national stadium, or ‘Bird’s nest stadium’, he was regarded by security personnel as a threat and was escorted away with an army’s worth of security. Undeterred by the hostility of security forces, he continued to make his way through the city to where the masses are, patiently re-telling his story again and again. One of his motto was ‘ As long as there is someone there, I can and I will be there’. Bidding farewell, he took off into the night with cheers of the crowd and my silent rooting for him to complete his wonderful odyssey.

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