x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Game for anything

A 58-year-old farmer from Jiangsu province in eastern China claims he pedaled a cycle rickshaw all the way from his home village to London just to see the 2012 Games.

You won't see Chen Guanming's name on the list of winners at the London Olympics, but he probably deserves a prize of some sort, and maybe even a place in the record books. The 58-year-old farmer from Jiangsu province in eastern China claims he pedaled a cycle rickshaw all the way from his home village to the British capital just to see the 2012 Games.

Brandishing photographic evidence and a passport containing the relevant visas, he has described to incredulous journalists an amazing two-year, 60,000 kilometre odyssey through 16 countries including Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Italy and France, before catching a ferry to England in time for the Olympics.

Mr Chen told the BBC he got the idea when he saw the handover of the Olympic flag to London Mayor Boris Johnson at the end of the Beijing Games in 2008. He began planning and obtaining visas the following year, and finally pointed his pedicab west in April, 2010.

Considering the hazardous terrain of Mr Chen's described route and other practical obstacles, the media has been sceptical about the full veracity of his claims. However, we can all agree that he deserves a gold medal for initiative and self promotion - and especially for spreading goodwill. That, surely, is what the Olympic spirit is all about.