Paralympic dreams

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Paralympic dreams

The 13th Beijing Paralympic Games close today. During the 12-day event from Sept. 6 to 17, about 4,000 disabled athletes from 148 countries, the largest participation ever at the Paralympics, transcended their limitations and achieved miracles as well as human victories.

Winning medals and breaking records are secondary.

All of the handicapped competitors who were born with disabilities or unfortunately became disabled later in life broke down walls of prejudice and discrimination and strived to show their can-do spirit.

Their endless challenge greatly moved our hearts.

Despite resource-poor circumstances for disabled athletes, who receive little support and much indifference, Korean para-athletes won more than 30 medals in several events including archery, table tennis, shooting and so on.

They deserve heartfelt compliments for their achievements there. They rose above afflictions such as cerebral palsy, amputation and polio which can drive anyone to despair, but they overcame their hardships and now cherish new hope through sports.

Hong Seok-man, a wheelchair racer who won a 400-meter gold medal in the athletic event is a good example.

He pushed his wheelchair all day long with an iron will although he felt extreme pain. As the head of a family taking care of a wife and a newborn baby, he never gave up and showed his indomitable spirit.

Lee Yun-ri, a gold medalist in the shooting event, totally threw herself into her work in order to recompense her parents for their care. Lee has been plagued by guilt towards them after she became wheelchair-bound because of an unexpected car accident 12 years ago.

Lee said in an interview after winning a gold medal, “I am now happy as a good daughter for my parents.”

These are just two examples among all of the disabled athletes in the competition who are winners, whether or not they bring home a medal.

Their touching efforts at the Paralympics in Beijing end today. Support and encouragement for the disabled, however, should continue.

Momentary social concern for disabled athletes can’t improve the quality of their lives.

We should continue to keep in our minds the slogan of the 2008 Summer Paralympic Games: “One World, One Dream.”
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