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Taiwan's blind athletes to join baseball, cycling events in U.S.

2012/07/05 20:29:00

Taipei, July 5 (CNA) Two groups of blind athletes from Taiwan will visit the United States in July to join a beep-baseball competition and a cycling tour, with the aim to let the world see Taiwan through its blind people, leaders of the groups said Thursday.

One group will compete in the National Beep Baseball Association World Series held July 22-28 in Ames, Iowa this year, while the other will take part in a 200-mile cycling tour along the Southern California coast of San Diego from July 13-15.

"We hope to increase international exchanges and to inspire all visually impaired people to go outdoors," said Chang Jen-jang, leader of the baseball team, which includes nine visually impaired players.

The team won the championship from 2004-2006 and second place from 2009-2011.

Chang said members began training last November and are confident they can win the competition.

"We have a stronger team this year," he told reporters following a press conference attended by government officials.

It is very important to build good teamwork, as it can be easy for visually impaired players to collide on the field, said Chang, adding that this requires much practice.

Kuo Yu-ting, 28, who won the MVP in defense in the 2011 game, said he is very excited to join the game again this year.

He noted that the close comradeship that the team has developed over the years is what "keeps me going."

Meanwhile, David Chang, who will lead the team of five visually impaired cyclists, said his team has been vigorously practicing for the U.S. event and hopes to show the world that Taiwanese athletes "can also be fast in speed."

Chang, head of the Taiwan Ah-Gan Spiritual Development Association, said his association will hold an 1,100 kilometer cycling event around Taiwan by the end of the year and will seek to invite athletes from other countries to participate.

In a beep baseball game, a base operator turns on the buzz sound of one of the two bases after a batter hits the ball, a modified softball that beeps. A run is scored if the batter touches the buzzing base before a fielder picks up the ball.

Meanwhile, in the biking event a sighted coach is matched with a visually impaired cyclist on a tandem bicycle to guide the cyclist through the event.

(By Christie Chen)