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Dedicated postman enjoys moment in spotlight
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Postman Zhang Yudong completed his 56-m run as a torchbearer in Jixi county, the fourth leg in Anuhui province, on Friday. But most people did not know him.

Zhang said he understood why. He lives in Jiapeng town, about 40 km away from Jixi. And for 15 years, he has been delivering letters, parcels and running errands in mountains inaccessible to motor vehicles or bicycles.

He smiled and waved at the spectators, and occasionally, at the TV cameras to greet the 6,400 people living in 33 villages whom he serves.

Each day, Zhang walks about 31 km up mount paths and across rivers and streams come rain or shine. He is reportedly the only postman in Anhui to work under such harsh conditions.

Since 1993, Zhang has trudged more than 130,000 km, about three times around the globe.

"Once you are in a profession, you must remain committed to it," Zhang said.

The scars and bruises on his arms and legs bear testimony to that - years of combating the elements and sometimes vicious dogs.

There are times during rainstorms when he has to lie chest down on his mail to shield it.

When Zhang was chosen to be a torchbearer, the villagers told him they would watch him on TV if they could not make it to Jixi.

The relay started at 9:10 am at the foot of East Hill in Jixi. Eighty torchbearers carried the flame in the 4.4-km run before it was passed to Huangshan city, a tourist resort in Anhui.

Zhang said he has been closely following developments in earthquake-hit Sichuan.

"I only earn 550 yuan ($79) a month, so I really can't help in monetary terms. But I can offer the victims a little advice and encouragement.

"There are always difficulties in life. If you bravely face them, you will succeed," he said.

(China Daily May 31, 2008)

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