Picture running 42km. For most people, the distance alone is enough to make them think twice about it. For Mok Kim-wing, founder of the Fearless Dragons running club and pioneering athlete, there’s an extra challenge in running a marathon – he’s blind.
In fact, since losing his eyesight as a teenager, 50-year-old Mok has been dedicated to championing the disabled. One of the rst blind students to complete the computer studies section of the Hong Kong Certi cate of Education Examination, in 2011 the social worker launched the charity Hong Kong Network for the Promotion of Inclusive Society, to help conquer the ‘digital divide’, promoting wider use of information technology among the disabled. Mok has also spearheaded numerous initiatives to bridge the social gap that disabled people can face in society. Most prominent among these is the Fearless Dragons. Founded in 2010, the running club features both disabled and able- bodied athletes – one of the few of its kind.
The team, which does group training runs several nights per week, is best-known for its groundbreaking technique of partnering blind runners with deaf guides. “We have a rope that we both hold,” Mok explains of the technique involved. “We rely on it to turn left and right. It’s like bre optics, delivering messages. While we’re running, we can’t communicate. So we develop signals. When my [running] partner pulls on the rope, I know it means there is danger ahead.”
A spirit of tenacity is Mok’s driving force, and was integral to overcoming the rough set of circumstances he was dealt early in life. Born into poverty, Mok had lost vision in both of his eyes by the age of 13 and his formative years were spent in squatter shacks. “I got my first pair of slippers at the age of 10,” Mok remembers. “But I think I lived a happy life then, despite poverty and my disability. I used to be an adventurer, an explorer. I ran around everywhere all the time.” After losing his sight, Mok gave himself an ultimatum. “I thought in just two ways,” he says. “I thought that I could give up, or that I could take my life forward, explore and have adventures. I am always looking for new challenges.”
With Fearless Dragons, Mok is exploring ways that disabled athletes can compete in mainstream sporting events, including cycling. “The Fearless Dragons team have tried everything in the past five years, from hiking to trail walking,” Mok says. “[We asked ourselves] – what haven’t we tried? For cycling, I’ve been thinking that my deaf partner could ride in front, and I could go on the back [of a tandem]... I hope we can take it step by step with a spirit of adventure. Regardless of our disabilities, we must push ahead!”
It is this positive attitude that motivates the Fearless Dragons to welcome not just disabled, but also able-bodied athletes to their club, in order to remove any sense of a divide. “I want them to experience the lifestyles [of able-bodied people], so we organise different events. Running is not the end, but the means. I want to eliminate social isolation, to help them to get out of the so-called ‘disabled village’.”
The club certainly succeeds in this regard. “[Fearless Dragons] have done marathons in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and Thailand,” Mok says, telling us that the Dragons are currently planning their next challenge for later in the year – a cycling trip around Taiwan. “The reason why we call ourselves Fearless Dragons is because we want to enhance and enrich our lives. We don’t want to feel that our lives are not rich because of our disabilities. I want to serve as a bridge between able-bodied people and the disabled,” explains Mok. “I hope I can help more people learn how to live beyond their limitations.”
Find out more about Mok and the Fearless Dragons at inclusive.org.hk.