Jiangsu’s Chen Guanming, known as the “Olympic Madman” in China and across the globe, was recently killed in a tragic accident in Argentina while on his quest to break a Guinness world record.
Erchenji Village in the Tongshan District of Xuzhou, Jiangsu, which is to the north of Nanjing, was where Chen lived as a farmer for most of his life. After selling all of his crops and dismantling two of his rooms in order to sell the bricks, he purchased a three wheel tricycle, with which he would go on to travel the world.
Chen shot to fame after the 2008 Summer Beijing Olympic games, when he then made it his mission to cycle to every succeeding summer Olympic games around the world on his rickshaw.
Chen was attempting to break a number of records by aiming to be the first person to ride a rickshaw at an elevated hight of 7,600 metres, attempting to cycle the longest total distance traveled on a tricycle and aiming to be the smallest recreational vehicle to travel the world.
Traveling across China, throughout South East Asia, and on through Europe, he then made his way down through the Americas, making it as far as Argentina before he was tragically killed by a truck, which crushed his rickshaw, near Puerto San Julian in Patagonia on 18 October. Chen was on his way to the South Pole where he had planned to embark on his journey to the Tokyo Olympics, from where had then planned to return home to good.
Throughout his travels, his infectious smile and spirit helped him achieve small celebrity status while in London and the Americas. News outlets such as the BBC, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Youtube and various blogs all featured Chen in stories about his journey.
Since his death, Chen’s fans have been adding their personal selfies and anecdotes to his Facebook page in memory, even crowdfunding online in order to help raise money for his family. Chen’s brother, Chen Guanling, has been trying to raise enough money to help repatriate his body to Xuzhou. Supporters of Chen in China have also been donating money to the cause, contributing almost ¥70,000 thus far.
Making the journey to the West over land has risen in popularity recently with more and more people using bikes and cars or even making the trek by foot. Nanjing woman Qian Minxin blogged recently about spending the last 10 months cycling from Germany to China, passing through 20 countries, while Nanjing father and daughter team drove 12,000 km from Nanjing to Seattle.
A snapshot of Chen when he reached London showed his message on the back of his rickshaw which read, “I am Chen Guanming. I’ve cycled from Beijing to London to support [the] Olympics. I hope every athlete can perform excellent and can bring pride to their own country. I hope my story can contribute to world peace and environment protection”. Chen was 61 years old.