69-year-old racer defies age limits in Taklimakan Rally

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The 2023 Taklimakan Rally came to a close as Liang Yuxiang crossed the finish line of the final stage. This marked the end of another arduous race for the 69-year-old participant.

Liang, the oldest racer in the competition, gained respect from his peers due to his resolve and endurance. His waist support was not a sign of age, but rather an indication of an earlier injury acquired during a skateboarding session.

While some found it peculiar for someone his age to be skateboarding - a sport typically associated with younger individuals - those familiar with Liang were hardly surprised. From fitness and racing to skateboarding, Liang wholeheartedly engaged in a variety of physical activities, defying the constraints of age. He staunchly believed that age should not impede one's passions.

In 2008, Liang made his inaugural participation in the Taklimakan Rally. With a modest vehicle and the temporary assistance of a mechanic hired from a local auto repair shop, he embarked on his debut rally.

Although his initial performance fell short, and photographers humorously suggested that they could leave after Liang's vehicle passed as there were rarely racers behind him, Liang remained undeterred. He committed himself to regular workouts and aerobic training to boost his stamina.

For Liang, self-improvement is the heart of racing. After each stage of race, he engaged in insightful discussions with other drivers, learning from experiences across different terrains.

"Racing is a process of understanding the inner workings of nature, using its power to help us become braver when we face life's challenges, rather than overpowering nature through brute force," Liang noted.

With time, Liang's performance improved, consistently achieving above-average results. He credited his success to a positive mindset, asserting that chasing results too fervently could lead to avoidable errors.

Since its inception in 2005, the Taklimakan Rally has spanned 19 years, and Liang is well-acquainted with its challenges. "Persistence is the greatest contribution the event has made to China's cross-country sports," he highlighted.

Liang affirmed that the best Chinese racers in the esteemed Dakar Rally today were all nurtured in the Taklimakan Rally. He applauded the remarkable growth of the Chinese racing industry, observing its transformation from obscurity to prominence, along with accomplishments in cooperative production and independent research and development.

Approaching his 70th birthday in a few months, Liang maintained a pragmatic stance for the Taklimakan Rally, willing to continue as long as his health and schedule allowed. Even if he stopped racing, he planned to attend and spend time with his fellow enthusiasts.

"It has become an integral part of my life. I will always be there, witnessing the spirit of camaraderie among the participants," Liang professed. 

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