Monday, August 18, 2008

Orphans share in spirit of Olympics

Ukrainian sports legend Sergey Bubka has passed on the true spirit of the Games to children of Beijing-based orphanage home Sun Village.

The greatest pole-vaulter in history visited 130 orphan children at their home in the capital's Shunyi district yesterday.

"I just want to tell them China's sports are strong and maybe one of them will become a champion one day," he said.

On the playground, Bubka and Sun Village founder Zhang Shuqin took turns passing torches to the children.

"We just want to light their hope and encourage more young people to take up sport," said Bubka.

"I had no idea what a tremendous impact the children here would have on me," said Bubka. "Despite their difficult circumstances, they have a spirit about them which convinces me they will overcome all the hurdles life has put in front of them."

Bubka isn't the only one visiting the center these days. The International Softball Federation has also been helping make Olympic dreams come true for kids at the village.

Eight-year-old Zhai Yufeng was given the chance to throw the first ball at the game between Canada and the United States last Thursday at the Fengtai sports softball field. International Softball Federation president Don Porter said the federation selected Little Zhai for the big pitch because of her talent for the sport and infectious smile.

"I was not standing there on my own," grinned Zhai. "I was just fortunate to be there, on behalf of my big family."

Zhai, whose mother died several years ago, came to the village last year after her father was imprisoned for domestic violence. Zhang, who started the orphanage back in 2000, said Zhai has since come a long way.

"I still remember her terrified expression and skinny body when she came to the village," said Zhang.

The village has helped hundreds of children like Zhai over the years, yet Zhang still remains humble about her efforts.

"Kids of prisoners are a disadvantaged group, ignored by society," said Zhang. "I just want to do whatever I can to change their life."

Source: China Daily

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