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Paralympians: sports change our destiny
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10:54, September 11, 2008

Back in the Athens Paralympic Games, Erin Popovich has accomplished something her fellow American Michael Phelps had not done at that time -- she competed in seven events and won all the titles.

Popovich, who is 1.34 meters tall, said the charm of the Paralympics lies in the fact that the disabled people can forget their disabilities and compete whole-heartedly to see what they can achieve.

In the ongoing Paralympics, the disabled athletes move the whole world with their optimism, courage and striving spirit. From another perspective, sports and an arena like the Paralympics serve as the cure for the physical and mental recovery of the disabled people. Many of them have thus changed their destiny.

Popovich, born with achondroplasia, claimed her third gold at the Beijing Paralympics after breaking the world record to win the women's 100m breaststroke SB7 competition. Although the outgoing girl has been participating in football, equestrian and other sports since she was a little girl, it is swimming and the Paralympic Games that make her a real star.

For many other people who suddenly became disabled, sports and the Paralympics have an effect of saving them from despair.

Wu Chunmiao, who took oath on behalf of athletes at the opening ceremony, claimed the title at the women's 100m T11 event on Tuesday. When she lost eyesight at the age of 10, she was dispirited to the utmost. But she discovered another side of herself on the track. "Sports help me find the value of life again," she said.

Kim Il-Yeon of South Korea, 41, still chokes up when recalling her childhood. When she suddenly suffered poliomyelitis at the age of four, she was in despair and for a time thought about committing suicide.

"It is sports that help me regain confidence and have faith in life," Kim said. She won a silver in the women's R8 50m sport rifle competition Tuesday. Currently, she is running for membership of the International Paralympic Committee.

Chinese swimmer Li Hanhua, runner-up in men's 200m freestyle S3 event, shares the feeling. The young man who became disabled in traffic accident at the age of six said, "At that time, I was low-spirited and inactive, and stayed at home every day. It is sports that give me a second life."

Sports have changed their destiny, and they are thinking about changing the destiny of more people. The 47-year-old Australian legendary judoka Athony Clarke bid farewell to his fifth, also the last Paralympics at Beijing with two quick losses in the under 90kg class on Tuesday. But his career does not come to an end. He runs a club which trains blind judokas, and helps his students to continue their training in judo clubs for able-bodied athletes.

A boy who lost his right hand in the Sichuan earthquake watched the Paralypic Games on TV. Now his new idol is Chinese swimmer Du Jianping, who won China's first gold at the Beijing Paralympic Games, and his new goal is to compete in the Paralympics.

This is the charm of sports and the merits of the Paralympics. With 174 gold medals claimed on the first four days of the Beijing Paralympics, what is changed is much more than the destiny of the 174 gold medalists.

Source: Xinhua

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