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President joins 4 kilometer run to promote Taipei Deaflympics

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou took part in a 4-kilometer road run yesterday that was designed to promote the upcoming Taipei Deaflympics.

Ma joined some 3,000 other people on the run — dubbed “Power in Me” — from the Presidential Office plaza through the streets of Taipei.

The participants, including more than 20 people with hearing disabilities and 10 visually impaired runners, vied for medals in two divisions — the 4 km race and an 8 km run.

In a conversation with Chen Lan-feng, one of the hearing-impaired runners who will represent Taiwan in the 2009 Deaflympics in Taipei City, Ma exhorted her to train even harder so that she could give an outstanding performance in the Sept. 5-15 games.

Chen is known as “the deer woman” in local athletics circles because of her swift, silent movements.

The runners in Sunday's promotional event, including Cabinet officials in charge of sports affairs and officials from the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, were all given ear plugs to be worn during the race.

Emile Chih-jen Sheng, CEO of the Taipei Deaflympics Organizing Committee, said he felt unsafe and uncomfortable when he was wearing them.

However, he said, the ear plugs were used so that the runners could experience the silence and try to understand how hearing impaired athletes feel and the challenges they face when competing.

Tsai Chen-wei, chairman of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, said the use of the ear plugs by the participants — most of whom have no hearing problems — was a way of showing solidarity with the athletes who will compete in the Deaflympics.

The Deaflympics is limited to athletes who have a hearing loss of at least 55 decibels in the better ear.

Many other promotional activities will be staged in the run up to the games, including a grand opening of the Deaflympics main stadium on July 23 and an invitational track and field meet from July 24-25, according to the sponsors.

There will also be a series of large-scale performances to promote the 21st Summer Deaflympics Taipei 2009, which is expected to draw over 10,000 people from 85 countries.

The performances will include Taiwanese operas as well as shows staged by the world-famous creative organization Blue Man Group, a folk music and dance troupe from China's Yunnan Province and aboriginal singers, Sheng said.

Detailed information can be accessed via the Deaflympics' official Web site at http://www.2009deaflympics.org.

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