Sat, September 06, 2008
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Cauldron of Beijing Paralympics lit

2008-09-06 15:16:02 GMT2008-09-06 23:16:02 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English

The cauldron of the Beijing Paralympic Games is lit by Chinese athletics athlete Hou Bin during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in the National Stadium in Beijing, China, Sept. 6, 2008. (Xinhua/Guo Dayue)

The cauldron of the Beijing Paralympic Games is lit by Chinese athletics athlete Hou Bin during the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games in the National Stadium in Beijing, China, Sept. 6, 2008. (Xinhua/Guo Dayue)

BEIJING, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Triple Paralympic high jump champion Hou Bin knows life is about losing and winning and his fresh experience at the Beijing Paralympic Games just proved it again.

Having lost the opportunity to win his fourth consecutive Paralympic gold medal on home soil, Hou won the honor of lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremony and became the star of the night on Saturday.

"It is a pity that I can not compete in this Paralympic Games, because I have prepared for that in the past several years," he said.

The 33-year-old has captured three straight golds at Atlanta, Sydney and Athens in the men's F42 high jump but missed out the chance to defend his title in Beijing because of the exclusion of the category due to lack of participants.

"I am still very happy to be here and there are a lot of things that I can do for the Paralympic Movement. For example, Maybe I can take younger athletes to participate in the next Games."

Early this year, Hou has been appointed the first International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Ambassador by IPC President Philip Craven as the organization launched the IPC Ambassador Program.

"As a Chinese Paralympic athlete, I am just one of the diligent athletes in China," Hou said at the appointment press conference. "I will take the opportunity to promote the athleticism and spirits of Paralympians and introduce their encouraging stories to the world."

Hou himself has an inspiring story to tell.

Born in a worker's family in Jiamusi city of the northeastern Heilongjiang province, Hou fell in love with sports when he was a little boy. Unfortunately, he lost his left leg in a train accident when he was nine.

"It was the nightmare of my life. Ironically, it happened on the International Children's Day, a day which ought to be a day of happiness," Hou recalled in his blog article.

"My left leg was run over by the train. I could even see my broken leg lie there a few yards away from me," he wrote. "I could also read the message from the eyes of the surrounding people: the kid is done!"

Hou was not done, and he did not leave his beloved sport field.

In 1993, he began to receive training as a high jumper and won the gold medal one year later at the 1994 Far East and South Pacific Games for the Disabled (FESPIC Games).

It was only a beginning of his golden harvest and soon after that he made his name known worldwide when claiming the title at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games with a jump of 1.92 meters, a new world record which has remained untouched until now.

"My first Paralympic Games moment in Atlanta was witnessing Bin Hou, a one-legged high jumper from China, taking off and clearing 1.92m. One leg, but in bounding approach and jump, his feat was effortless, and mirrored an elite Olympic jumper," Telegraph writer Gareth A Davies wrote in a report. "The only difference - it was done with one leg. It was breathtaking in its brilliance."

Hou repeated his victory at Sydney and Athens to become the first Chinese to win gold medals in three consecutive Paralympic Games.

"We can beat our fates! Everyone is champion!" Hou said in his speech at China's prestigious Peking University in August. "All of us can be the masters of our fates!"

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