China’s “Basketball Girl” Gets New Legs

Meet Qian Hongyan, the 18-year-old girl from China that may seem like your average teenager, but has a pretty unique backstory.

Qian lost both her legs when she was still four years old, in a tragic car accident in 2000. Since her poor family lived in the rural area of Luliang county, southwestern China’s Yunnan province, with no easy access to prosthetic legs, her family had no other option but to improvise.

China's "Basketball Girl" Gets New LegsQian learned to walk on her hands with 2 pieces of wood that serve as her shoes and stands using a basketball, cut in half to steady herself. By that, she was then dubbed as, “basketball girl” by locals.

China's "Basketball Girl" Gets New LegsIn 2005, after attention in the Chinese press, Qian traveled to Beijing to receive free artificial limbs at the China Rehabilitation Research Center, a center that has been providing help to the disabled in China for over 20 years.

China's "Basketball Girl" Gets New LegsIn 2007, Qian received a larger pair of legs, but sad to say, it would be her last treatment as her impoverished family cannot support it anymore. 

China's "Basketball Girl" Gets New LegsHowever, Qian found other opportunities. She joined a local swimming club for the disabled, the first of its kind in the country, sponsored by the Yunnan Provincial Federation of the Disabled.

At first, she found it difficult.

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

China's "Basketball Girl" Gets New LegsDespite all of this, Qian kept moving forward and became a successful athlete, training for four hours every day. She hopes to one day win medals for her country in the Paralympic Games.

When she turned 18, Qian returned to the China Rehabilitation Research Center in Beijing, ready for her adult prosthetics.

China's "Basketball Girl" Gets New LegsThe moving story of Qian Hongyan, has touched the lives of the people in China. Her success marks the changing fortunes of China’s disabled. 

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