Feature: Vancouver Chinese celebrate new year with fun run to show support for Winter Olympics

12:02, January 02, 2010      

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Vancouver's Chinese community marked the start of 2010 with a two-kilometer fun run on Friday to show its support for the Canadian city's upcoming hosting of the Winter Olympics Games and Paralympics.

Despite cold weather and a heavy rain lashing the proceedings at Queen Elizabeth Park, the event organized by the Canada Alliance of Chinese Associations (CACA) managed to attract a healthy turnout of about 300 runners, and equally the same amount of spectators.

With dignitaries and politicians from the federal, provincial and civic levels, as well as Chinese Consulate-General Liang Shugan, in attendance, Jerry Li Zhi Gang, CACA co-chairman and executive director, said with so many Chinese-Canadians living in Vancouver, it was important for them to show their enthusiasm for the Winter Games starting February 12.

CACA, a non-governmental organization, represents 55 Chinese community associations in the Vancouver area.

"The success of the Beijing Games showed the world the great progress that has been made there in recent years and also the opportunities that can be achieved through working together," said Li, a native of Zhengzhou City, Hunan province.

"Through the Winter Olympics we are wishing for Vancouver good things to happen for the economy. This great event can act as a stimulus for the economy and promote the spirits of the Olympics."

Richard Lee, the provincial parliamentary representative for the riding of Burnaby North, said he was happy to see the large turnout, despite the rain and a temperature hovering around seven degrees Celsius.

"A lot of these people here make a connection between Beijing and Vancouver," said the native of Zhongshan, Guangdong province, who also acts as British Columbia's Parliamentary Secretary for the Asia Pacific Initiative. "Like Beijing before it the world is coming to Vancouver. I believe over three billion people around the world will be looking in on their television to see Vancouver and the Olympics."

Vancouver City Councilor Dr Kerry Jang, a third-generation Canadian-Chinese who specializes in mental illness, was equally enthusiastic about the pending arrival of the 21st Winter Olympiad.

"There's only 42 days to go before the Olympics," he told the crowd. "We know that the Olympics in China were memorable, fantastic and great. With your help and enthusiasm Vancouver's Olympics will be just as good."

Jacky Weng, a Ningbo native who has lived in Vancouver for five years, said prior to his run he felt fortunate to be living in a Winter Games host city as he would experience two Olympics in quick succession.

"It's new year's day and the Winter Olympics are coming. I'm running around the park because I want to show my support for this great event," said the 18-year-old. "The Olympics happens around the world and all the nations and the people pay attention to this event."

Weng said he was interested to see what benefits hosting an Olympics would bring for Vancouver after the Beijing Games were such a huge success.

"That meant a lot to us (Chinese). It demonstrated to the world that China was a nation on the rise, one that is developing to an international standard. I know the people of Canada will enjoy hosting their own Olympics as much as China did.

"I feel lucky that I can experience two Olympics so quickly in two nations so close to my heart. I will be cheering for both the Chinese and Canadian athletes. China is fairly new to the Winter Olympics but they are getting better with each Games."

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