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Passion, Hope Remain as Paralympics Close
    2008-09-18 01:04:11     Xinhua
As China brought down the curtain on a spectacular Paralympics on Wednesday, the disabled in the country began new lives with passion and hope.

Standing on her balcony, Zheng Yue held out her hands to feel the illuminating fireworks in the sky.

"The Games mean much more than sports to me," said the 18-year-old blind girl.

"They mean confidence and understanding when the Paralympians get as many cheers and applauses as the Olympians do. I am so proud of them."

Zheng said memories of the splendid Games would accompany and inspire her in future.

International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven applauded that the Beijing Paralympics had been first class.

"I think the two Games have been of equal splendor," he said on Wednesday, referring to the country's motto for the Games.

Admittedly, the 12-day event of great splendor has become an inexhaustible source of power for the disabled in China.

For thousands of amputees who lost their limbs to the destructive May 12earthquake in Sichuan Province, the Paralympics brought new hope.

Pan Yunlong, 18, who had his right leg amputated in the earthquake, huddled with his fellow classmates to watch the closing ceremony in a gray portable house.

He retrieved his passion for basketball when a little boy tossed up the ball skillfully in the London eight-minute performance.

"Smile to life and face up to challenges -- those were what the tenacious Paralympians had taught me," said the optimistic teenager in his armchair.

"I will do my utmost to become one of them."

During the sports gala, about 4,000 disabled athletes from 148 countries and regions, the largest participation ever, showcased their courage and confidence, striving to break down walls of prejudice and discrimination.

A sport event at the scale of the Paralympics has been known to speed up critical changes.

In the eastern Jiangsu Province, Wei Dongxiang listened to a radio that he got from the local government months ago. Having lost his sight for 10 years, the 35-year-old wanted to grasp every sound from the grand closing ceremony in the "Bird's Nest" National Stadium.

"From infrastructure for the disabled to people's awareness of the welfare of the disabled population -- changes happened everywhere in the country," he said.

"Paralympics come and go. But I hope the care for the disabled will stay."

In a country with 83 million disabled, there will never be too much care needed.

In preparing for the Paralympics, Beijing invested 600 million yuan (about 87.7 million U.S. dollars) to install and improve accessibility facilities.

"The Paralympics got some balls rolling," said Jia Yong, sports director of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, "changes have been made, and more are on the way."
 
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