Five years after a tragic motorcycle accident left Lai Chi-wai paralyzed and mobile only by wheelchair, he climbed Lion’s Rock, a famous climbing destination in Hong Kong, in that wheelchair!
This wasn’t the first time he had climbed Lion’s Rock. In fact, Lai Chi-wai was a champion rock climber before his accident and had won the Asian Rock Climbing Championships four times already. Back then, there were few who questioned Lai Chi-wai’s future success in mountain climbing.
However, a motorcycle accident on December 9th, 2011, challenged any idea of athletic success for the champion. He was instantly paralyzed from the waist down. Now 33-years-old, Chi-wai described that fateful day. “When I woke up, I was already in the hospital and had been operated on. The staff told me … I was paralyzed from the waist down and would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life,” he said.
As he came to terms with his new condition, Lai Chi-wai realized that he did not have to leave his passion behind. He started wheelchair boxing and continued training in mountain climbing with friends. Then his son was born, and that was all the motivation he needed to develop a renewed resolve to continue his pursuits in rock climbing. In 2014, he made the announcement that he would take on Lion’s Rock once again. It had never been done before in a wheelchair.
The 495-meter-high granite rock stood in waiting for him on December 9th, 2016. if successful, he would become the first paraplegic to ever scale to the granite top of Lion Rock. On his Facebook timeline, Lai Chi-wai wrote:
It was a post that traveled around the world as an inspirational story of overcoming adversity, and it was more than a personal victory. It was a victory of the human spirit and demonstrated what we can all accomplish, if we put our mind to it. Even the experts doubted that it could be accomplished. Nobody imagined a person in a wheelchair could ever scale to the top of Lion Rock. But the impossible was proven possible by a young athlete with devotion and determination.