This story is a role model and inspiration for thousands of people with disabilities around the world. Her name is Qian Hongyan and she competed in the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics as part of the Chinese national swimming team. She has a lot of conquests ahead of her, energy, and dreams of winning gold. She is also called “The Mermaid” for her gracefulness in the water.
But there’s a catch: Qian is missing both of her legs. She lost them in a car accident in 2000. She was only four years old at the time, and it’s frightening to think how her life might have turned out. She was born in northeastern China, into a very poor family. No prosthetics were out of the question, there was simply not enough money for them. At first, her family carried her in their arms, but then she wanted to move on her own.
Then her grandfather took an ordinary ball and sat her down on it. Qian took construction tools in her hands to push herself off the ground. And now she could go wherever she wanted on her own. She started school and made friends.
In 2005, the Chinese public became aware of Qian. The government got involved, and Qian received prostheses. Then she saw the Chinese Paralympic swimming team on television and wanted to be one of them. Hard training, hard work, and self-belief brought results. Qian became the person she had dreamed of. Now all that remains is to win that coveted gold at the Olympics.