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Paralympian To Cross 40 Miles Of Rugged Australian Outback In His Wheelchair

The 60-year-old has a history riding his chair through extreme locations.

A 60-year-old Singaporean athlete will attempt to cross 40 miles of Australian outback in his wheelchair. Dr. William Tan admits that the feat will be his most grueling attempt yet, after trips across Antarctica and the North Pole. The journey is expected to take five days, and Tan had to procure a special exemption to allow the use of his wheelchair on the Larapinta Trail. Speaking to Mashable, Tan described the path he will encounter on his venture: "The terrain is so rough, so undulating … with rocks, gravel, pebbles.”

Tan’s success as a Paralympian came after he lost the use of his legs following a polio diagnosis at the age of 2. He overcame a grave diagnosis of stage 4 leukemia in 2009 and set a personal para-cycling record at the Berlin Marathon the next year.


Tan has recently found success as a motivational speaker.

"I might have to ask for help and ask other participants to pull me up with ropes,” he said about the journey. “I know my limitations. … And to be realistic, I'm not there as a hero."

Outfitted with a wheelchair specially designed to take on the unforgiving terrain of the Australian Outback, he feels up to the challenge at hand, motivated in part by the fundraising aspect of this endeavor. Working in concert with the University of Newcastle in Australia, he’s already helped raise over $102,000 to provide education and health care services for indigenous Australians.

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