Paraplegic climber scales Hong Kong skyscraper in wheelchair

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 Jan 2021, 3:56PM
Lai Chi-wai battled the weight of a wheelchair on the way up the 320-metre-tall Nina Tower. Photo / Supplied, Ignite
Lai Chi-wai battled the weight of a wheelchair on the way up the 320-metre-tall Nina Tower. Photo / Supplied, Ignite

Paraplegic climber scales Hong Kong skyscraper in wheelchair

Author
Newstalk ZB / NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 19 Jan 2021, 3:56PM

A man has scaled one of Hong Kong's tallest towers for charity, ten years after an injury left him wheelchair-bound.

Lai Chi-Wai raised almost HK$5.5 million ($1 million) while climbing the 320-metre Nina Tower on Saturday. The 37-year-old climber completed the gruelling 10-hour climb, hauling himself and a wheelchair up the skyscraper in Kowloon.

"I was quite scared," Lai told local reporters. "Climbing up a mountain, I can hold onto rocks or little holes, but with glass, all I can really rely on is the rope that I'm hanging off."

Lai, a former champion rock-climber, had ranked 8th in the world. However, after a road accident in 2011 left him paralysed from the waist down, he considered retiring from the sport.

However, Lai made a return to the sport. Just five years later he climbed Hong Kong's Lion Rock, the city's most iconic cliff face in his wheelchair.

In an interview with the BBC, the climber said being able to return to his sport had been a huge motivation.

"Knowing there was a possibility...that I could be a climber again, I found some direction in life."

On the 10th anniversary of his accident, the athlete set his aims higher – taking on one of Hong Kong's most iconic skyscrapers. The first attempt was postponed from the week before due to weather and safety concerns, however on Saturday he proceeded with the climb.

Battling with wind, and knotting ropes, Lai completed 250 meters of the 300 metre climb before it was called off for safety reasons.

Slapping his helmet to keep himself awake, and taking small breaks to rest his arms, icy nighttime conditions meant that he could not haul his wheelchair onto the very top of the tower. The athlete told his Facebook group of the difficult decision to stop at the last 48 metres of rope.

"Some people don't understand the difficulties of disabled people, some people think that we are always weak, we need help, we need assistance, we need people's pity," the Guardian quoted Lai.

"But, I want to tell everyone, it doesn't have to be like that. If a disabled person can shine, they can at the same time bring about opportunity, hope, bring about light, they don't have to be viewed as weak.”