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Treasuring Memories of the Paralympics

By staff reporter DONG NING



French weightlifter Souhad-ghazouani loves her new nails, while she had done at the manicure ship in the Paralympic village


DISABLED athletes of all nations mill about the main commercial thoroughfare that runs through the Paralympic village, shopping for mementos to commemorate their extraordinary two weeks in Beijing during the 2008 Paralympic Games. Beautiful music floats on the air to the applause of audiences gathered on the central plaza beneath the fluttering multi-colored flags of participating countries. The street itself, which was designed with the disabled in mind, is entirely barrier-free, and the shop entrances and passageways are wide enough for wheelchair-bound athletes to access. All product and service information has been printed in larger type, and volunteers are always at the ready to help along the few sections of the road with inclines.

    The licensed Olympic products store selling mascots and other souvenirs receives the most visitors. According to the store's general manager, Ms. Pang, the mascots have been the most popular choice. She points out that the shelves have been positioned lower, allowing those in wheelchairs to reach the goods, and that the aisles between the shelves are at least two meters wide. The manager of a cybercafé nearby says that his shop is open from 8:00 in the morning until midnight, with 72 computers available to access the Internet free-of-charge. In addition, a number of computers have been set aside especially for people who enjoy Internet games. They are so popular that users have been asked to limit their gaming to two hours at a time.

    For those more interested in their personal appearance, the beauty shop down the street pampers its customers lavishly, and few leave unhappy with their new hairstyles and painted nails. All in all, the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing have not only provided disabled athletes from around the world with the opportunity to excell, but have left them with many vivid and pleasant memories to cherish forever.

VOL.59 NO.12 December 2010 Advertise on Site Contact Us