Qian Hongyan was just four when she lost both her legs. A speeding trucker left her for dead as she crossed the main road in her village of Zhuangshang in southern China.
For nearly two years Qian was immobile as she didn’t even have enough of her body left to sit up in a wheelchair. Doctors said her only hope of being able to move by herself again would be extensive surgery to allow her to be fitted with prosthetic limbs.Her parents couldn’t afford this treatment.
Qian’s granddad Yuan came up with a simple but effective treatment to get her moving again. He took a basketball the village boys had discarded and cut a hole just big enough for tiny Qian to fit into, padded the inside with stiff floor mats from his car, then propped her up inside. All of a sudden Qian was able to stabilize herself and was able to by move herself by rolling the ball in any direction she wanted. She supported herself using wooden handles.
From that day on Qian would not be stopped by any obstacle. She went back to school, started to play with her friends again, and started to get back the life of any girl her age. She began professional swimming training in 2007 and defied the odds of her double amputation to become one of the first members of the Yunnan Youth Swimming Club.
She won three gold medals in last year’s Yunnan Para Games and took a gold and two silver medals at the National Swimming Championship for the Disabled (Under 18) in 2009 before continuing impressively at this year’s Para Games.