Wed, Jan 25, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Desperate dad in banana drama

SLIP-UP The suspect reportedly told police he stole bananas in an effort to raise funds so that his son could attend an international meet in Hong Kong next month

By Rich Chang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The father of a deaf taekwondo athlete who is expected to attend the 2008 Paralympic Games was found stealing a large number of bananas, reportedly in order to finance his son's attendance at a taekwondo contest in Hong Kong.

"Police on Monday evening arrested a man surnamed Yan, 55, who had been driving a pick-up truck loaded with more than 100kg of bananas around a banana farm in the county," Lin Hsin-chuan (林信全), a Pingtung police official, said yesterday. "Because Yan is not the owner of the farm, he admitted to the police that he had stolen the bananas."

Lin said the bananas were worth around NT$2,200.

Yan reportedly told police that he stole the bananas to help raise funds for his 18 year-old son, who needs more than NT$20,000 in order to attend an international taekwondo contest next month.

Yan reportedly told the police that he had been a fruit retailer, but that his business failed and he has debt problems. He told them that although his son is deaf, he excels at taekwondo and is a reserve for the 2008 Paralympic Games.

"I have no other way to get money," Yan reportedly told police.

The son's coach, surnamed Pan, told reporters yesterday that he has been worried about the younger Yan, who has been absent from training for a week.

"I know his family is facing financial difficulties and I am attempting to find ways to fund his Hong Kong trip," Pan said. "I still hope he can attend the contest."

Pan said because Yan is unable to hear and speak, he is very sensitive to what happens around him.

"This sensitivity is very good for a taekwondo athlete," Pan said.

Pan said he has coached the younger Yan for many years and is proud that the youth is on the list of reserves for the 2008 Paralympic Games.

"I have asked my students to look out for Yan. I do not want to see him give up his taekwondo career," Pan said.

Police said the elder Yan has been charged with theft.

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