From tragedy to glory

Updated: 2011-10-16 07:53

By Long Yudan (China Daily)

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From tragedy to glory

 From tragedy to glory

Clockwise from top:

Qian Hongyan, 15, practices at the Yunzhinan Swimming Club. She is hoping for success at the Eighth National Paralymic Games in October.

Qian, inspired to learn swimming after watching the National Paralympic Games in Kunming in 2007, rests after a day of heavy training.

Hao Weixin, 18, swims in the pool at Yunzhinan Swimming Club in Kunming.

Young swimmers exercise at the gym at the Yunzhinan training base.

It is 8 in the morning, and another day of training for Qian and the other 30 disabled swimmers at the Yunzhinan Swimming Club.

Young Yunnan swimmer disabled in road accident sets sights on medals at National Paralympic Games and London 2012. Long Yudan reports.

Paralympics hopeful Qian Hongyan was naturally worried about floating when she tried swimming for the first time.

The teenager from Luliang, Yunnan province, lost both legs in a traffic accident when she was 4 years old. Since then, she has become well known for moving around balanced on an orange ball, earning her the nickname "Basketball Girl".

"I had to give much more than other kids when I learned to swim," Qian said. "It seemed there was no way I could float in the water. I was choked."

It took her several weeks to get used to the water, but once she did Qian discovered she has a real talent for swimming.

"It's so free and relaxing to swim," she said. "You can go anywhere you want and it is much freer than on the ground."

Today, the 15-year-old is a medal-winning athlete preparing to take part in this month's Eighth National Paralympic Games in Zhejiang province's picturesque capital, Hangzhou. She also hopes to win a spot at the 2012 London Paralympics.

"I'm very confident I can win something (in Hangzhou). Even if I don't, there's nothing to regret as long as I try my best," Qian said.

It was while she was watching the 2007 National Paralympic Games in Kunming, capital of Yunnan, that Qian was inspired to learn swimming. In the short time since, she has won three gold medals in provincial contests in Yunnan, as well as one gold and five silvers at national events.

Qian, whose best events are the 400m freestyle and 100m backstroke, receives four hours of professional coaching every day at Kunming's Yunzhinan Swimming Club, which has produced several Olympic champions and world record-holders.

Training with her are 30 other young paralympians, all from different areas of the country. Like Qian, many have also lost limbs.