Wednesday, August 6, 2008

An Athlete With A Crushed Olympic Dream

On the eve of the Beijing Olympics, the Independent carried a profile of Fang Zheng (方政), a former athlete who lost both of his legs during the Tiananmen Massacre.

In 1989, Fang Zheng was a promising twenty-three-year-old discus thrower with a dream for the Olympics. In the early morning of June 4, he was with the students who had withdrawn from Tiananmen Square and on their way back to the campus area. On Chang'an Avenue at the Liubukou(六部口) intersection, three tanks suddenly rushed into the student formation. Fang Zheng was caught under while he was helping a female student. Fang Zheng had previously given a testimony of his experience. The gruesome scene at Liubukou, including Fang Zheng at moments after his injury, was captured in photographs and published in a French newspaper. Please be warned before following this link for the pictures.

As a double amputee, Fang Zheng continued with his athletic career in discus and javelin throwing. In 1992, he won gold medals in All-China Paralympics Game and qualified for international competition. But the government denied this opportunity from him.

In this report, Fang Zheng was quoted saying that he wishes the Beijing Olympics well and thinks that the Olympics will make China more open. But he does not plan to go to Beijing for the Olympics or Paralympics. "These days I live a very ordinary life. I am just an ordinary civilian."

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