The story appears on

Page B2

May 12, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Swimmer dreams big after losing both legs

DAI Guohong, 21, would never have discovered his gift for swimming had he not lost both legs after a magnitude-8.0 earthquake razed his hometown of Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County in Sichuan Province three years ago today.

In July 2008, two months after he was pulled out of the quake debris, Dai awoke from a coma in the hospital. His legs had been amputated. Since then, he has had eight major operations.

"I almost died during each operation," he says. "Fortunately I made it, so I must do something with my precious life."

The Sichuan Provincial Disabled Persons' Federation chose Dai to take up swimming in March 2009, about 10 months after the quake. In December 2009, he became a professional member of the provincial disabled persons' swim team, based in the provincial capital of Chengdu.

Dai won a gold medal in the men's 100 meter breaststroke at the national disabled swimming championships in April 2010, becoming the swim team's first gold-medal winner in a national competition.

"The gold medal belongs to those people who saved my life, cheered me up afterward and looked after me," Dai says.

However, the promising amputee swimmer has not limited his talents to the swimming pool, but has his eye on people who experienced similar tragedies.

With the Eighth Chinese National Games for the Disabled less than six months away, Dai says there was no need to sprint toward that goal, although the competition is crucial for him to qualify for the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

Dai won the national championships only two months after learning the breaststroke. He also broke the national record for the men's 100-meter breaststroke during routine training two months after he won the gold medal, he says.

"I only need to keep up my performance in the following two months," Dai says, adding he would compete in four events at the upcoming national games and was confident he would win at least one gold medal.

In Chengdu, Dai and his father, an assistant to the 18-member swim team, now live on a monthly income of about 1,000 yuan (US$154) plus a monthly allowance of 300 yuan provided by the provincial disabled persons' federation.

However, Dai says he believes that destiny saved his life to make him "achieve something big."

He donated the gold medal to his alma mater, Beichuan Middle School, which lost more than 1,000 students and teachers in the disaster.

Dai says he wants sports schools to be built exclusively for disabled children in every province and municipality across the country, adding that his proposal was based on the fact that mental and physical health matter most to the disabled.

Dai also says he wants to attend university after retiring from swimming.

"I want to major in politics or law, which would help me pursue a political career in the future," Dai says. "I hope to become someone who can speak for and perform real deeds for disabled people."

He adds he will retire from swimming immediately after the 2012 Paralympic Games.

"A Paralympic gold medal may pave the way for me to realize my dream, as it will expand my influence and thus amplify my voice," Dai says. "But if I don't get it, it's no big deal."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend