While the Summer Olympics may be over, the incredible stories about the dedicated athletes and their equally dedicated fans, keep pouring in. 57-year old Chen Gunanming from China's Jiangsu Province is one of them. While not an Olympic athlete, his incredible journey to attend the 2012 London games deserves a gold medal for sheer perseverance and effort.
The Chinese farmer's love for the games began in 2008, when as a reward for helping clean up the trash around the Olympic Park, he earned himself a ticket to attend the closing ceremony in Beijing. He fell in love with the spirit of the games and when he saw London's mayor, Boris Johnson accept the Olympic Flag for the 2012 games, decided, that he had to attend. However, unlike most fans, this 57-year old did not rush out to buy an airplane ticket. Instead, he decided to do it the 'Green' way - By riding his three wheel pedicab all the way from China to London.
So on May 23rd 2010, the adventurer who had never before set foot outside China, loaded up a few provisions and set off on his epic 140,000 km (86,991 mile) journey that took him across 16 countries. Along the way, he climbed 20,000 foot tall mountains on his gear-less three-wheeler and braved severe floods in Thailand and epic snowstorms in Turkey. His biggest setback came when he was denied a visa to pedal through Burma. However, that did not seem to faze him - He simply backtracked and rode through Tibet instead!
While tough, he also had some great experiences - Kind strangers that gave him casual jobs or donations to fund his trip and an opportunity to see and pose alongside International landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Personas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
After pedaling for a whopping 17,979 hours, Chen reached London on July 9th, a little dazed and confused as he tried to figure out where to go next. Luckily for him, he met James Beeston, who not only guided him to the Chinatown in the Soho district, but was so taken in by his amazing story that has now decided to help him raise funds to accomplish his next goal - For believe it or not, this Chinese man is not done pedaling yet.
If all goes according to plan, Chen hopes to now ship himself and his three-wheeler to North America and ride across the USA and Canada. Then, it will be time to head to Brazil for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
While Chen's story may sound a little too good to be true, the farmer has plenty of proof that he did it all - ranging from visa stamps of all the 16 countries he pedaled through to photos and even, a random YouTube video that a curious onlooker took when he was biking through Rome . To read more about the adventures of this ever-smiling man or help him get to the Rio Olympics check out www.chenolympicrickshaw.com.
Resources: BBC.co.uk, lubbockonline.com,sports.yahoo.com, chenolympicrickshaw.com