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Handicapped Jin receives hero's welcome for protecting Olympic torch in Paris
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08:18, April 10, 2008

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She has been called the "Smiling Angel in Wheelchair" and the "Most Beautiful Torchbearer" by Chinese netizens after showing incredible courage in protecting the Olympic torch in Paris from repeated assaults by Tibetan separatists.

Jin Jing, a Paralympic fencer, returned home on Wednesday and received a hero's welcome when she was recognized by people at Beijing's Capital International Airport.

"Our Jin Jing is back!" many shouted excitedly. The 27-year-oldwas immediately mobbed by fans coming out of the airport in her wheelchair.

Jin, from Shanghai, lost part of her right leg at nine after suffering a malignant tumor in her ankle. She later returned to school after a year of chemotherapy. Refusing to use a cane for fear that she would get in people's way, Jin insisted on getting around on one foot, which would lead to a lot of pain.

She successfully survived the cancer and became a member of the Chinese national wheelchair fencing team. She won a silver and a bronze in the 2002 Busan Far East and South Pacific Games (FESPIC).

Jin was supposed to be the third torchbearer in the Paris relay on Monday but the plan was changed because of the chaotic protests. The torch was eventually passed to her on the banks of the Seine River.

But before her torch could be lit, several protestors threw themselves at Jin and her two companions, one of who is blind. Jin appeared a little scared in her wheelchair but protected the torch from the separatists.

"My first instinctive react was to protect the torch," Jin told Xinhua on her way back to the city center from the Beijing airport.

Jin said the separatists wanted to grab the torch away from her and her chin and shoulders were scratched, but she refused to give the torch away.

"I felt no pain from the scratches and injury on my right leg," she said. "I only wanted to protect the torch."

Although she has captured the hearts of millions of Chinese people, Jin said that she just did a natural thing.

"I don't think I did any great things," she said. "Any Chinese and Olympics-loving torchbearers would protect the torch under such circumstances."

She added, "The Chinese students in Paris were more fearless and braver. I was moved to tears seeing so many Chinese students waving national flags and singing the national anthem along the route."

Jin's mother Liu Huayao said that she had never expected the rioters could do such things to a handicapped girl in a wheelchair.

"Now we know what those Tibetan separatists really are," said Liu with anger.

Jin Jing lives in Baoshan District of Shanghai with her retired parents. She was selected by Lenovo, a main sponsor of the Olympic Games, as a torchbearer.

"We are very proud of her after the incident in Paris," said Jin's mother.

Source: Xinhua

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