x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Chinese farmer rides 60,000km on rickshaw to Olympics

A Chinese farmer has spent two years riding his rickshaw to London 2012, through floods, war zones and freezing temperatures, and now wants a place in the opening ceremony.

A Chinese farmer has spent two years riding his rickshaw to London 2012, through floods, war zones and freezing temperatures, and now wants a place in the opening ceremony.

Chen Guanming has travelled about 60,000 kilometres and crossed 16 countries to reach his destination.

The BBC said he was found at the top end of London’s Regent Street looking “completely lost and downhearted”.

John Beeston, who frequently travels to China, was able to unravel Mr Chen’s story over a meal at nearby Chinatown. “At first I assumed it was a tourist rickshaw,” Mr Beeston said. “Then I looked back and thought: ‘no, this is something different’.”

Mr Chen, 57, says he was inspired by the closing ceremony at the Beijing Games in 2008 and set out to London on the only method of transport he had to “spread the Olympic spirit”.

Stamps in his passport provide the proof of his journey. He also has photo of landmarks he passed and a book full of good-luck messages.

Mr Chen’s trip took him through mountain passes where the temperature dropped to minus 30°C. After surviving floods in Thailand he was refused a visa to Myanmar and instead took his rickshaw, which has no gears, through the mountains of Tibet.

Mr Chen then crossed Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran before spending three days in Turkey snowed in. He survived by having items sent by courier along his route, and by donations.

He arrived on July 9 and has been flooded with offers of help. His aim now is to take part in tonight’s opening ceremony. ”I wanted to come here because I wanted the whole world to support the Olympics and be part of it,” he told the BBC.