Grand Torch Relay Marks the Commencement of the Fourth Asian Para Games
In an extravagant ceremony, the torch relay for the much-anticipated fourth Asian Para Games was inaugurated on Thursday, ushering in a spectacular celebration of inclusivity and sportsmanship. This event, which promises to be a beacon of hope and inspiration, saw the torch’s journey commence at the Xiushui Square near Qiandao Lake, in the picturesque Chun’an County of Hangzhou, located in east China’s Zhejiang Province.
Hangzhou, already in the global spotlight as the host city for the 19th Asian Games, scheduled from September 23 to October 8, has now shifted its focus to the forthcoming fourth Asian Para Games, set to unfold between October 22 and 28.
The flame, which embodies the spirit of unity and resilience, was originally kindled in Guangzhou on October 12, in an homage to the capital city of south China’s Guangdong Province. This location is particularly significant as it was the host of the inaugural Asian Para Games in 2010.
Following the symbolic ignition, the flame embarked on a remarkable journey, traveling from Guangzhou to Hangzhou at lightning speed through the efficient high-speed railway, with the invaluable escort of dedicated personnel from the organizing committee. This monumental transfer highlighted the fusion of modern technology and tradition.
The torch’s maiden bearer was none other than China’s very own para power-lifter, Tan Yujiao. “I feel very honored and thrilled as the first torchbearer,” shared the 33-year-old athlete. Tan’s dedication and accomplishments in the world of para powerlifting have made her a beacon of inspiration. She has shattered a staggering 19 world records, with the majority of them in the challenging 67kg category. Her remarkable journey has seen her secure gold medals at the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Para Olympic Games, as well as the 2014 Dubai, 2017 Mexico City, and 2019 Nur-Sultan world championships.
Reflecting on her aspirations for the Games in Hangzhou, Tan shared, “My goal at the Games in Hangzhou is to win the gold medal. Also, I have an attempt to break the world record set by myself.” Her unwavering determination is further underscored by her triumph in the 2019 Jakarta Asian Para Games.
This torch relay is truly a global affair, as indicated by the organizers, with a remarkable 600 torchbearers participating in the relay, including 51 overseas torchbearers representing 41 countries and regions. This diversity symbolizes the universal spirit of unity and inclusivity that the Para Games espouse. Among the torchbearers, there are 228 females and 372 males, with the youngest being a remarkable 14-year-old, and the oldest a 73-year-old.
What makes this relay particularly special is that nearly a third of the torchbearers, a total of 188 individuals, are physically impaired. This heartwarming inclusion speaks volumes about the commitment of the organizing committee and the broader community to celebrate the abilities and accomplishments of para-athletes.
With the torch now ignited and the relay in full swing, the excitement and anticipation for the fourth Asian Para Games in Hangzhou continue to build. This event not only showcases the extraordinary talents of para-athletes but also serves as a powerful reminder that determination, resilience, and unity can illuminate the path to success in the face of adversity. The torch relay will continue to travel across the region, igniting the spirit of the Games in every corner of Hangzhou, and in the hearts of people worldwide, until the grand opening of the Fourth Asian Para Games on October 22, 2023.