8-Year-Old Runs 2,213 Miles to Beijing

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Fri, 2007-08-31 09:35.
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BEIJING - An 8-year-old girl ran more than a marathon and a half a day for nearly two months, jogging 2,212 miles to Beijing followed by her bicycle-riding father, who denied Tuesday that he had forced her.

Zhang Jianmin said his daughter, Huimin, made the trip as a show of support for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, and considered pounding the pavement a form of play.

"You can force your (child) one day but you can't force one to wake up early in the morning everyday if one doesn't want to," he was quoted as saying in the China Daily newspaper.

"I never impose my will on her." For the girl, running is "more about jumping and playing, rather than a chore," the paper quoted Zhang as saying.

Huimin reached Beijing on Sunday after running from her home on the southern island province of Hainan. Her father, a distance runner in his youth, followed her on an electric bicycle.

Chinese and overseas media trailed Zhang for much of her journey, providing updates and fueling debate about whether her father was acting appropriately.

The girl, who weighs 44 pounds and stands 4 feet tall, ran an average of 40 miles a day.

Budhia Singh, a 4-year-old boy in India, was banned from running long distances after medical tests showed his health had suffered after he ran much of a 43-mile race last year. Doctors concluded the boy was undernourished, anemic and could suffer heart problems. China Daily said experts believed Zhang's health also could be affected.

"The running will certainly harm her," it quoted Liu Hong, director of the China School Sports Federation, as saying.

"It is an extremely hard running process even for an adult," Liu was quoted as saying.

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