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Paralympics ignites passion for life for disabled quake survivors in China
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09:14, September 08, 2008

When some 4,000 athletes from around the world are competing for gold medals at the Beijing Paralympics, they are also igniting the passion for life for many disabled survivors from the May 12 massive earthquake in southwest China.

"I had never thought they (Paralympians) could participate in intense competitions," said 23-year-old Xie Xia in a resettlement site in Anxian County, Mianyang City, Sichuan Province while watching the Games opening ceremony Saturday night.

Xie lost his right calf during the 8.0-magnitude quake, which left more than 87,000 people dead or missing. The quake also left more than 370,000 people injured, but the figure of the disabled is not available.

"I thought 'I'm done, my life is over' when I saw my calf broken at the very beginning. I felt very depressed for a long time," he said.

Xie came from a mountainous village that was destroyed in the quake, but he and his parents survived.

"I received psychological tutoring and many people gave me encouragements," he said.

"With the Paralympics approaching, I read a lot about the Games and athletes, which helped rebuild my confidence."

Xie, who had an educational background of senior high school, had been mainly doing farm work in the past years. He once went to a city as a migrant worker but returned home later.

Now with a prosthetic leg, Xie was not sure whether he would continue to work in the cropland. He had another choice: to join a technical training program offered by local government.

"The disabled can do what others do. That's my understanding of the Paralympic spirit," he said.

To 36-year-old Shi Guangwu, a villager from Huangping Township, Qingchuan County, Paralympics means strong will.

"Never lose heart in life, even though you have disabilities," said 36-year-old Shi who had almost no right hand. His wife had hearing impairment.

The couple had run a small shop before the quake, but the quake destroyed the shop and their home.

They moved into a prefab home with their nine-year-old son and re-opened the shop soon.

"So long as we have hands, feet and a life, we can overcome any difficulty," Shi posted a banner on the door of his home.

For 11-year-old Guang Guang from Yingxiu Township in the epicenter, Wenchuan County, Paralympics is a chance to learn to be strong. The sixth grader lost half of his right arm in the quake.

"I watch them (Paralympians) with admiration. I wish I can get confidence and fortitude from them," he said, while gazing via TV the athletes at the opening ceremony in the National Stadium.

Source: Xinhua

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