Chinese village postman Quan Erping (left) holds the Olympic flame in the ancient course of Marathon on Saturday, March 29, 2008. [Photo: Xinhua]
Chinese village postman Quan Erping had his dream come true on Saturday, bearing the Olympic flame in the ancient course of Marathon marked by Greece's legend of Pheidippides.
"It's great luck for me to be selected as a torchbearer by Olympic torch relay sponsor Lenovo," said Quan, adding he had never expected that he would set foot on foreign land.
For Quan, who has been shuttling between villages on zigzagging roads in a mountain area of Inner Mongolia, carrying the Olympic flame in Greece was something he never dreamed of.
"It's an experience that I will never forget. When you touch the land of Olympic origin, you just realize that it's a world of humanity and you are valued no matter what you do for a living," said Quan.
It's the first time for Quan to leave China. The farthest place Quan had been to is Beijing, where he participated in a TV contest selecting Olympic torchbearers.
"I left Beijing for Athens on March 26. In the airport of Frankfurt for stopover, I nearly got lost because of language barrier," recalled Quan.
"Luckily again, I met a Chinese newspaper reporter and managed to get to Athens."
Quan was well recognized in the countryside he serves. He is always ready to help, not only on mails and postal packages, but anything he is capable of.
Since he was eight years old, Quan took care of an old village woman whose eyesight failed, collecting firewood and guarding the road for her.
Serving as a rural postman since 1991, Quan has never shrunk from his responsibilities. In the early years, his income was very low. He had a colleague from 1991-1996 and the two rode bicycle to deliver mails and packages. Quan was equipped with a motorcycle after his colleague shifted to a new job.
Quan's perseverance and warm heart won him an "Award of Top 10 Persons Who Moved Inner Mongolia".
"Delivering mail is somewhat similar to torch relay," said Quan. "But the difference lies in distance. I travel much longer than a 200m jog in the Marathon site. I usually ride 100 kilometers on motorcycle everyday."
"I have an ordinary job back home and I did great. I will do my job even better," he added.
(Xinhua News Agency March 30, 2008)