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.

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

We’re truly stunned.

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.”

“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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