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Shijiazhuang Citizens Make Handicrafts to Welcome Olympic Flame and the Olympic Games
2008-07-28 10:26:59     CRIENGLISH.com

Forty-year old Liu Guijun and her handicraft "Soar" in this photo taken on July 21, 2008. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/Wang Yiliang]

As the 2008 Beijing torch relay will arrive in Shijiazhuang, capital of northern China's Hebei Province, on July 29, lots of citizens in the city have made various handicrafts to celebrate the meaningful moment and welcome the upcoming Olympic Games.

Fifty-six year old Zhang Weidong is a bus driver on the No. 115 bus. He has a special hobby -- making cement sculptures. He can turn icy and lifeless concrete into lifelike figures. His favorite creation is his "Olympic dragon."

Zhang was very excited when he heard that the Olympic flame was coming to Shijiazhuang. He decided to create this special piece to welcome it. He took some vacation in July to work on teh project and spent seven days and nights making the dragon. He did not sleep the whole time and only ate one meal per day.

Zhang could not stop sobbing when he told CRI reporters about how much time he spent working on the dragon.

"In order to finish the dragon very quickly, I kept working for such a long time that I could not hold my back upright."

The finished concrete dragon is golden, and its body coils to form the number "2008." A red ping-pong ball is under its front paw. Zhang says this is because table tennis is considered China's national sport.

He also carved the five Olympic Rings and evergreen pines on the statue's base, which is made of tree root. It symbolizes that the Olympic spirit can never be extinguished.

Zhang's excitement is written all over his face when he talks about the Olympic torch relay in Shijiazhuang.

"The Olympic torch will arrive in Shijiazhuang soon. I support the Olympic Games. I love the Olympic Games! China's Olympic dream has come true after waiting for a hundred years! I'm particularly excited!"

CRI reporters also met another creative Shijiazhuang resident.

Forty-year old Liu Guijun had polio as a child and was left disabled. She set up a workshop for local disabled people in 2007, taught them how to knit, and looked for buyers for their handmade products.

In May, Liu made up her mind to make a unique gift for the Olympic Games. She discussed her idea with others at the workshop, and they decided to weave a special tapestry.

"Lots of people are trying to do something to welcome the Olympic Games. We disabled people also wish to join them and show our talents."

More than 20 people took part in the project, including a few non-diabled ones. They weaved two thousand and eight peonies then attached them to a plastic cloth with a picture of the Great Wall on it.

Liu and her fellow craftsmen called their 5.2 meter-long and 3.2 meter-wide tapestry "Soar." The flowers formed a golden dragon, the figure 2008, the five Olympic Rings and an auspicious cloud. Unlike other Olympic-related handicrafts, they added the emblem for the Beijing Paralympic Games and icons for the 20 sports events to the tapestry.

The 2008 peonies consist of six varieties and have all been made by hand. The icons for the twenty events are made of yarn. The craftsmen had to first twist the cord and then attach the pictures carefully.

Since most of the team members are disabled, it was very difficult for them to work long periods at a time. Some of them had to kneel instead of sit on the floor when they stuck on the flowers.

But Liu says she believes their efforts have been worthwhile.

"Nobody will pay for our work, but we all went about it like hammers and tongs and were very happy. The work is a gift from our disabled people. Although we are handicapped, we are still able to do something for the Olympic Games."

She is right. Not only Zhang Weidong and Liu Guijun, not only the people of Shijiazhuang, but every Chinese has his own story about the Olympics.

The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games are a long-awaited dream of all Chinese people.

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