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Bus Driver Creates "Olympic Dragon" in Seven Days
2008-07-27 11:10:07     CRIENGLISH.com

Cement Sculptor Zhang Weidong and his "Chinese Olympic Dragon" [Photo courtesy of Zhang Weidong]

On July 29, the Olympic torch relay will make its journey to Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei, the nearest province to Beijing.

Locals there have expressed their excitement in welcoming the torch in various ways.

Zhang Weidong, a bus driver, worked seven days and nights to make a special gift for the Olympics. Let's follow our reporter to hear his story.

Reporter: 56-year-old Zhang Weidong trundled on a tricycle for nearly three hours from his home to an exhibition entitled "My Olympic Story" held in Shijiazhuang City a week ago.

On his tricycle was a large cement sculpture he made, called the "Chinese Olympic Dragon". Zhang says he created the dragon to share his joy about the upcoming Olympics.

Zhang became addicted to cement sculpting two years ago. The tools he use most often are screwdrivers, gravers and fruit knives. It usually takes him two months to complete a sculpture. But this time he only spent about a week on the large glittering dragon which is more than two feet long and 1.8 feet wide.

Zhang said he devoted all his passion and energy that week to making the dragon. He only ate one meal a day and did not sleep the entire time in order to finish the project as quickly as possible. Every time he mentions his treasured dragon, he starts to sob.

"I was so tired that carving the dragon even made me curl up."

Zhang says he arranged to take his vacation in July to complete the masterpiece before the arrival of the torch relay in Shijiazhuang City on July 29.

His excitement about this memorable event was evident.

"The Olympic flame will arrive in Shijiazhuang soon. I strongly love and support the Olympics. I'm very excited that our century-old dream has finally come true. So I want to cheer for the Olympics and complete this cement dragon before the opening of the torch relay in my hometown."

Zhang had spent one week thinking about the dragon before he started working on it. Every part of it has a particular meaning.

"The Chinese nation is the descendant of dragons. Having mulled the idea over for a week, I made the body of the dragon resemble the number 2008 in an imposing gesture."

Delicately carved, the golden dragon holds a ping-pong ball with its forepaw. The ball bears three characters that say, "Embrace the Olympics." The dragon is crouching on a large twisted tree root decorated with the five Olympic rings above big characters that say, "Cheer for China."

Here is Zhang again.

"The big root of the tree represents that Chinese people share the same roots, and we are united in cheering for the Olympics. The ping-pong ball is our national ball. I painted it red, because it is the color of prosperity and joy."

Zhang's family members helped him when he was making the dragon. His 76-year-old mother and son added water to the cement, stirred the mixture and passed him his tools.

Zhang says of his 16 cement sculptures, most of which are landscapes, he is most proud of his Olympic dragon. He says in the future he wants to try sculpting figures and hopes to share his skills with other would-be cement sculptors.

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