請各位朋友，特別是要採訪渣馬的記者，花些少時間，讀讀以下兩封信件，一封是輪椅運動員 Ajmal Samuel 本年二月廿八日，寫給渣打香港總裁洪丕正的信；另一封是英國輪椅運動員 Rob Holliday 於本年渣馬後，寫給香港傳媒的信。
An Open Letter to Mr. Benjamin Hung Pi-cheng, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank with regard to the Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon, 2013
28 February 2013
Dear Mr. Hung,
It was with great pleasure that I read the headlines in Monday’s edition of the South China Morning Post, quoting you as saying that Hong Kong’s “marathon with a heart” can become “among the biggest and the best in the world…” You did however say that this was contingent upon the government and asked for the roads to be kept open longer.
You have every reason to be proud. Standard Chartered Bank (the Bank) has been sponsoring the Marathon for the past 17 years and through this sponsorship has seen the increased interest in health and fitness in the city, while also supporting the needs of the community through charity programmes. I was very happy to read from your website that the key beneficiaries of the Marathon Charity Programmes include, Seeing is Believing, The Hong Kong Paralympic Committee & Sports Association for the Physically Disabled and the Hong Kong Anti-Cancer Society. By providing sponsorship to these organizations, the Bank sends out a clear message that inclusion is key for a successful and world class event, for which I personally commend you.
In spite of this, I am afraid that I do not share your optimism regarding how Hong Kong’s marathon might ever become one of the best in the world, simply based on what transpired last Sunday for wheelchair athletes. The reasons are simple:
Did you know that it has taken four years of unrelenting requests, meetings and stubborn advocacy for the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA) to even include wheelchair racers in the marathon? Sunday’s race was only the second time we have been allowed to take part. The HKAAA’s reasons always hides behind road closures, in spite of the fact that Hong Kong attracts top level and professional wheelchair racers, whose times are well ahead of many of the casual able-bodied runners who take part.
Did you also know that of the six wheelchair athletes who participated this year, five were disqualified? That is an 85 per cent failure rate. The reason given by the HKAAA is that we did not meet the one hour cut off point at the 10 mile mark. To have a cut off time is not unusual, but that the HKAAA made no concession to the course gradient in spite of prior requests, seems inherently unfair. It also does not send a positive message of inclusivity to wheelchair participants, both local and overseas.
What is most disconcerting is that no matter how many times we have asked, the HKAAA refuses to address our issues and concerns.
As the CEO of my own company, just on the basis of the failure rate alone, I would be concerned. I would want to ensure that something like this does not happen again by enquiring how and where conditions could be made favorable in support of the participants. Similarly, if I were the sole sponsor of such a signature event (not only in the athletic calendar of the city, let alone Asia, but of the world) I would want to ensure that one of our main beneficiaries, in this case the physically disabled, would be treated appropriately and be accorded the respect granted to other participants.
Mr. Hung, Hong Kong is my home and as the Chair of the ParaTriathlon Committee, Hong Kong Triathlon Association, I would like nothing better than to see the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon be the best in the world. However, if the HKAAA continues to marginalize its wheelchair athletes, I do not hold out much hope for this happening soon.
Again, let me congratulate you on the completion of a successful marathon and I very much hope that 2014 is even better for you as the sponsor, and for me, a participant.
Ajmal Samuel Chairman and CEO, ASAP Transaction Processing Corporation Ltd Chairman, ParaTriathlon Committee, Hong Kong Triathlon Association
I would like to describe my experience in the 2013 Hong Kong Wheelchair Half Marathon in the sincere hope that by bringing attention to it there will be change in 2014.
When I collected my race number I was informed of a one hour cut off at the 10 mile point. This is not unusual in wheelchair marathons and 10 miles an hour is usually easily achievable on a level course. However, the mean uphill gradient of the Hong Kong course meant that the time was not achievable by the majority of entrants. This resulted in 85% of wheelchair half marathon participants being stopped at 10 miles. Given the difficulty of the course the Hong Kong cut off time is far harder than the London marathon cut off and harder than the Boston Marathon qualifying time, currently the most challenging on the world circuit.
As I exited the Western Harbour tunnel on the long steep hill climb out, I was cheered on by the marshals giving me the impression that my time was fine. A few minutes later when going downhill at 25 kph a marshal jumped in front of me. It is impossible to stop a racing wheelchair at this speed in a short distance and as the marshal jumped out of the way he punched me in the shoulder which could have caused me to tip over. I came to a stop somewhat shaken up and asked to continue the race. A marshal made a phone call and confirmed my race was over. I then asked to be released to go on my way. This request was refused and I was physically held by a marshal and forced to take a bus to the Victoria Park. At this point I was no longer a race participant and I wanted to leave the course and not be detained.
No blanket or means of keeping warm was provided and I was not allowed to carry out warm down exercises creating the possibility of muscle injury. The journey to Victoria Park was delayed outside the park because the bus did not have police permission to enter the park. As a result I was stationary in my racing chair for a significant length of time in excess of 45 minutes. The cushioning of the chair is sparse due to the efficiency required and the pressure sore risk is normally mitigated by the movement of racing, but sitting in it stationary increases pressure sore risk.
I was denied the satisfaction and fulfilment of completing the race instead I have been left with a negative impression of the attitude towards disability and disabled people in Hong Kong when such an event should be a showcase for tolerance and inclusion in Asia. I have represented Great Britain at Adaptive Rowing in Italy, Spain and Japan and I have competed in marathons all over the world, in major cities in Europe, the USA and the Middle East. I can honestly say that my treatment on Sunday represents a low point.