Aged hero injects fresh enthusiasm into torch relay in C China province

2008-07-28 02:13:25 GMT       2008-07-28 10:13:25 (Beijing Time)       Xinhua English

ZHENGZHOU, Central China, July 28 (Xinhua) -- Ren Yangcheng, who was regarded as a hero for his courage and devotion in working decades before, said on Monday that he had injected fresh enthusiasm into the torch relay in central China's Henan province.

"Passing the torch, I felt as enthusiastic as I had been more than 40 years ago when we built the Red-Flag Canal," said the 78-year-old who runs the second leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay in Anyang city.

In 1960, when a serious drought hit Henan, the locals resolved to dig a canal by hand to divert water. In the following 10 years, more than 100,000 were involved in the project, which, named the Red-Flag Canal, became a huge irrigation network later.

With a rope around his waist and a drill in hand, Ren, along with his fellow workers, dangled back and forth in the air, sometimes as high as 30 meters, to remove dangerous rocks from cliffs.

He was regarded as a hero among the Chinese people at that time.

The canal remains a miracle in the country's architectural history. But more important, it has always been used as an example of the spiritual treasure of self-reliance, devotion, and solidarity.

In the relay, Ren, raising the torch high, ran with vigorous strides amid exclamations of the people standing alongside the road.

"I was selected a torchbearer at such an age, which is so honorable," he said.

To make it perfect, Ren started to jog for several hundred meters every morning for months before the relay.

"Compared with what Chairman Mao and the People's Liberation Army who liberated the country have overcome, any difficulties should not be a big deal," he noted. "Although Beijing already has modernized venues, we still need self-reliance and devotion to make the Games perfect."

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