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Feature: Salangane's willpower lifts Lin to Paralympic top podium
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09:13, September 09, 2008

"If there is a wall in front of you, don't give up. Try to climb over it, even if you will be hurt."

This is a sentence written by basketball superstar Michael Jordan, but was posted by Chinese Paralympic shooting champion Lin Haiyan on her own website.

"I like it because it is also true for shooting," said the 43-year-old lady, who was deprived of the ability to walk normally by infantile paralysis.


Lin was born in 1965. Her father was a research fellow from a state ministry who could only go home once in a year, while her mother was a busy doctor.

Disaster fell upon her suddenly when the girl was two years old and had a high fever. Unfortunately her mother went to work in the rural areas at that time during the Cutural Revolution.

Her nanny, who was hired to take care of her instead, didn't know the seriousness of the disease and delayed medical treatment. Hence the sequela was: permanent disability in legs.

"This misfortune made me stronger," she recalled.

Lin well remembered a snowy day decades ago, when she was just a child, nobody came to pick her up after school.

"I tumbled seven times in ten minutes," the lady said with such indifference as if talking about the story of someone else.

But her nightmare was far from the end.

A knowledgeable and ambitious girl, Lin wanted to enter university after middle school.

"I passed the examination and paid the tuition. But when they learnt that I was disabled, they sent the money back," she said.

After several twists and turns, she landed a job in the Dabao Cosmetics Co., Ltd, formerly known as Beijing Sanlu Factory boasting one of China's most famous domestic cosmetics brand.


The beautiful lady with big bright eyes and long hair started her shooting career by chance.

In 1991 when the Beijing shooting team of disabled was recruiting new members, a coach, suggested by one of Lin's colleagues, approached her.

"Wow, shooting? That was cool!" the curious Lin decided to give herself a try.

But soon she realized that the training was not "cool" at all.

Due to her disability, Lin never had sports class at school. However, shooting required both stamina and good balance of the body. To make up for her shortcomings, the strong-willed lady, who normally appeared cheerful and soft, spent three hours on the bus everyday commuting between her home and the company, rather than buying a tricycle.

She progressed rapidly. One year later, she was selected to compete in the national games for disabled and got a bronze.

Talking about that experience, Lin laughed.

"Believe it or not, I collected the highest score in the first series of the four-series qualification round," she said.

Then she got dizzy with the performance. In her own words, "I couldn't find out which direction was the north!"

She fouled.

"My coach was so anxious that he shouted at me from behind, and he was thus expelled," she giggled.

However, this was the start of Lin's medal spree.

She was later crowned in the world championships, breaking or surpassing the world records for five times.

Since she had to work, Lin couldn't receive much training. "But time is not important," she said. "Training is like a boyfriend. If you stay with him for too long, you will get bored."


The Sydney Paralympic silver medalist was not in the form at the women's 10-meter air pistol event in Beijing on Monday.

"I have been suffering from hemorrhoids for quite a long time. But I dare not take medicine for fear of being mistaken as doping," she said. Doctors suggested her to quit, but Lin said,"No."

During the competition, she had to sit on a shooting stand, and the pain disturbed her from time to time.

Despite this, the markswoman shared the same leading qualification score of 374 points with Moon Aee-kyung from South Korea to advance into the final.

When the beaming lady hobbled, rather than moving in a wheelchair, into the final hall, she was greeted with thunderous applauses.

In the ten-shot final, she didn't start well, collecting just a 9.1, 1.1 points lower than Moon's 10.2.

Apparently losing her patience, Lin was the first to open fire in the following three shots, and the scores of 9.5, 9.4 and 8.5 further expanded her gap from her South Korean counterpart.

The Godness of Luck smiled at her when it came to the fifth shot. Like always, she led to fire. A decent 9.7.

Moon, however, aimed for quite a while and stunned the spectators with a 6.6.

Her rival's lapse seemed to boost Lin's confidence, who later slowed down and collected a 10.2 and a 10.3 to pull away from other finalists.

Before the last shot, the Chinese lady on the shooting stand had already boasted an advantage of 3.7 points.

In the breathtaking last shot, the shooter didn't hesitate for long, before making a 8.3, nailing down the gold medal in advance.

Ecstatic Chinese spectators, with the symbols of Chinese national flags painted on the cheeks and the flags of Beijing Paralympics in their hands, chanted her name loudly as congratulation. Lin turned around and grinned, waving to the crowd.

This was the first shooting gold for the host country of the Beijing Paralympics.

"My performance was far below my normal level," she said.

But her coach Wang Lijia was satisfied with Lin's performance.

"She is a bold shooter and did well today," she said.

"In fact, we have met many difficulties during the training," Wang noted. "For the disabled, the process is tough and they need to pay unremitting efforts. Luckily she managed to pull through."


In the eyes of Wang Jie, Lin's classmate in middle school, the shooter was quite optimistic and helpful. "She is always in the center of the crowd. She once told me that disabled people were not there for sympathy. They could do a lot of things."

While Liu Lixin, Lin's former teammate, said, "Lin loves making friends."

To many of her acquaintances, the lady was quite fashionable who loved all kinds of new things.

In 2003, she set up her own website, which she named as "Blue Moonlight". "I just like that name," she said.

At first, she just posted articles about shooting, so as to help newcomers understand the sport.

Gradually, the website also featured painting, literature, movie and music.

"Everything on earth shares something in common. When you are absorbed in music, you will feel yourself being purified. On the shooting range, we just need to be in that mood so as to become a whole with the gun," she said poetically.

The romantic shooter said she wanted to make a family.

"To get married and have a child will make my life without regret," she said.

"As where and when my Mr. Right will appear, it is up to karma," added the lady. Her eyes narrowed in a smile.

In Chinese, her name Haiyan means salangane, a kind of bird that always hovers above the sea, despite gale and high waves.

Maybe that was just a portrait of the shooter.

Source: Xinhua

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