60-year-old Chen Guanming is probably the world’s most dedicated Olympic fan. Chen from Jiangsu Province in eastern China has braved the odds over 15 years to attend three Olympic games.
When Beijing was announced as hosts of the 2008 Olympic games in 2001, Chen decided to be in every city that would host the Olympic games.
He has since attended the 2004 games in Athens, Greece, the 2008 games in his native China (Beijing) and the 2012 games in London.
The Olympics mean peace to the world and harmony among human beings
His journey however has not been a luxurious one. Riding for an average 50 kilometers a day, Chen has been traveling by road with his tricycle which is his only companion.
Arriving in Rio de Janeiro last Saturday on his famed tricycle, the 60-year-old farmer toured the venues for the various Olympic games.
The tricycle is covered partially with a worn out banner that shows pictures of countries Chen has visited over the past 15 years including India, Cambodia, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey among others. It also shows 170,000 kilometers boldly written across the top of the banner – an indication of the mileage clocked by Chen.
“I started from 2001. I will be traveling from South America to Oceania, then to Africa, and from Africa to enter Europe again, which is a crossroad, and then to Scandinavia. Ride, ride, and ride, then I’ll ride to Tokyo. I have to get to Japan by 2020,” Chen told CCTV news.
Asked what has been the driving force behind his journey, “the Olympics” Chen answered simply with a laugh.
The Olympics he said “means peace to the world and harmony among human beings”.
His conviction about the power of the Olympics to unite the world is equally evident on the banner hanging over his rickshaw in mandarin and English.
“Promote the Olympic spirit, hope for world peace” read part of the banner.
“I sincerely wish the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games to be a brilliant, pleasant and successful one. I sincerely wish all the best for Brazil,” he said.
Whiles promoting the Olympic spirit, peace and hope, Chen has also used his tour over the years to preach about the need to protect the environment.
With the opening ceremony of the 31st Olympiad just hours away, Chen is already preparing for the next leg of his journey back to the Asian continent.
He has planned to spend some 20 days in Rio and then hit the road with the hope of making it in time for the 2020 summer games in Tokyo, Japan.