So Wa Wai
|Born||6 October 1981|
So was born with jaundice which affected both his hearing and the balance of his limbs, and hence competes in the T36 classification for athletes with cerebral palsy. At the age of 10, his enthusiasm for running was noticed by athletics coach Poon Kin-lui, who then began to formally train So.
Over the course of the next two summer Paralympic Games, 2000 in Sydney and 2004 in Athens, So won of four gold and two silver medals in a range of individual events, up to a distance of 400 m, as well as two bronze medals in relay events.
In 2008 So was chosen to be part of the torch relay as the Olympic flame passed through Hong Kong on its way to Beijing. However, his participation in the games themselves was put into doubt when an injury to his father rendered him unable to work. So was forced to give up his training and take up a full-time job to support his family. Help with his situation came from Andy Lau, a Hong Kong entertainer and the singer of the Beijing Paralympic Games official theme song "Flying with the Dream", who gave him a full-time job with the flexibility to allow him to train for the Games.
At the 2008 Summer Paralympics games, So led the Hong Kong team into the Bird's Nest Stadium during the opening ceremony as the flagbearer. During competition he first won a bronze medal in the 100 m, a performance with which he was disappointed, and followed this with a sixth place in the 400 m. In the 200 m T36 final he broke his own world record with a time of 24.64 seconds on the way to winning the gold medal, making him the Paralympic champion in that event for the third successive occasion. After the race he said he had been ill before the competition and that "During the first part of today's competition I did not run at my normal speed", he attributed his win to both "good luck" and "practice".
So is the current world record holder in both the 100 and 200 m men's T36 classification.
- "Athlete Biography". The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- "A-Z of Paralympic classification". BBCSport. 2008-08-28. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- "So Wa-wai -- 'Forrest Gump' of Hong Kong wins 100m T36 bronze". The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- Wa Wai So's profile on paralympic.org
- "Torchbearer So Wa Wai hands over the flame to equestrian Nelson Yip Siu-hong". The Official Website of the Torch Relay.
- "Beijing Paralympic theme song shows love for life". China Daily.
- Official list on the website of the International Paralympic Committee
- "Official results of men's 200m - T36" (PDF). The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- "So Wa Wai wins Men's 200m T36 gold medal". The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- "HK veteran breaks world record to take Paralympics gold". China Daily. Retrieved 2008-09-16.
- Athlete biography at The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games