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Cheers for Paralympic torch relay across Shanghai
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10:25, September 02, 2008

Loud cheers from enthusiastic crowds greeted the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games torch as it passed through Shanghai Monday morning.

Yu Zhengsheng, the Party secretary of the city, lit the torch at 9:30am at the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade before a cheering crowd.

He handed over the flame to blind long jumper Zhao Jihong, a Shanghai Paralympic athlete. Zhao was the first Chinese athlete to break a Paralympic record in 1984 at the New York Paralympic Games, and has won four golds, three silvers and one bronze medal in three Paralympics.

The torch run covered 3.1 kilometers and passed through Donghua University, Songjiang New City before ending at the Shanghai Recovery Center for Disabled Persons.

Sixty torch bearers took part in the relay, including 12 physically challenged people. Song Xiaobo, a deaf-mute star who won the second prize in the TV talent competition "My Hero" in 2006, also carried the torch.

Xu Fengjian, a civil servant with a disabled foot, said he was very excited to be chosen as a torch bearer. "To hold the Olympic and the Paralympic Games proves that our country is growing stronger," he said.

"I believe the Paralympic Games will raise more concern for disabled people."

Each physically challenged torch bearer was escorted by a volunteer during the relay. Xu's volunteer, Mu Salong from East China University of Political Science and Law, said he was proud to be a part of the event. "Although I'd never met Mr Xu before this morning, we had good coordination," he said.

Chinese swimmer Pang Jia-ying lit the cauldron at 10:40 am as the last torch bearer. Pang, 23, notched up three Olympic medals, one silver and two bronzes, last month.

The torch relay is being run in 11 Chinese cities. The route has been divided into two sections. Shanghai was the third stop in the "Modern China" leg. Qingdao in Shandong Province is the torch relay's next stop.

The Paralympic Games will start in Beijing on Saturday.

Source: Shanghai Daily

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