Never Give Up: Paraplegic athlete beats all odds to climb Lion Rock in a wheelchair

After seeing a group of daredevils walk across an inch-wide rope over the city, we didn’t think it was possible for us to be floored by anybody’s antics at Lion Rock anymore.

Enter Lai Chi-wai.

Before his accident, Lai was nicknamed “Spiderman” for his amazing agility. Screenshot: Education Bureau

The four-time winner of the Asian Rock Climbing Championships had his promising athletic career cut short five years ago after he lost the use of his lower body in a tragic car accident.

Despite his physical limitations, Lai never gave up. While he also began wheelchair boxing, the former Cheung Chau bun-scrambling champion continued regular climbing training with his former teammates, and, inspired by the “Lion Rock spirit” in 2014, vowed to be the first paraplegic to climb the eponymous mountain.

日練夜練,晚晚都有班人陪住。經常聽到 呢句 志偉 放心我地點都會撐你。呢句野好大動力,想偷懶都唔得。

Posted by Chiwai Lai on Monday, 5 December 2016

Last Friday, exactly five years after his accident, Lai made good on his word and actually climbed Lion Rock, wheelchair ‘n’ all:

感謝各方的支持及報導。讓我休息多幾日好嗎?呢個衝擊好大,我還未平服心情。我其實身心都好累。想瞓、瞓一陣又醒番。稍後我會通知大家記招時間及地點,到時可以直接對話及訪問。同時間歡迎同大家見個面影張相,認識下我地CRUX 結的成員。時間、地點會盡快公告。請留意CRUX 結專業 及個人FB 更新。感謝大家關注!😉

Posted by Chiwai Lai on Saturday, 10 December 2016

We’re truly stunned.

Posted by Chiwai Lai on Friday, 9 December 2016

After reaching the top, Lai joked on Facebook, “Breaking news, wheelchair discovered on Lion Rock”, and jubilantly declared, “I’ve fulfilled my goal. I said I would climb Lion Rock, and I’ve done it now!” before going on to explain the significance of the date. “In the middle of the night on December 9, 2011, I got into a traffic accident and had to undergo emergency surgery. Five years later, I climbed to the top of Lion Rock! Once again, I’m sitting on the mountaintop.”

Posted by Chiwai Lai on Friday, 9 December 2016

“Lots of good people helped me. Of course, there were difficulties, but to overcome such obstacles is in the Lion Rock Spirit,” he wrote. Lai also thanked the 40-odd crew members who filmed a documentary about his incredible journey.

Lai’s post has since gone viral, with thousands of Hongkongers congratulating him, and telling him that they were moved and motivated by his story.

Upon watching an old interview of Lai prior to his accident, we’re struck by something his secondary school principal said: “What does rock climbing teach you about confronting hardship? Do you give up, or do you continue? My impression of Chi-wai is that he has unswerving determination. Once he’s set a goal, nothing can stop him from persevering until he succeeds. No matter how tough the challenge is, he doesn’t give up.”


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