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Former Chinese basketball star makes national anthem resound at Beijing Paralympics
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09:23, September 13, 2008

A former Chinese basketball star has realized his goal by breaking the world record at the Beijing Paralympic Games.

Li Duan refreshed the world record of triple jump without any visual sensibility by a leap of 13.71 meters at his last attempt in the National Stadium on Friday, successfully defended his Paralympic title.

"The last leap was just like a game-winning three-pointer made by Michael Jordan in the last second," the 30-year-old said. "I fulfilled my dream to brake the record after Athens."

Achieving a national youth champion of slam dunk at age 17, Li started to endure a dark world just twelve years ago when explosion of an extinguisher totally deprived his eyesight.

With the help and encouragement of his family and coach, he soon get through his mental nightmare and realized that he could jump in field arena depending on his legs.

"To play at the Olympic Games had been my dream, but after my injury I think I could do as well as at the Paralympics," said Li who used to be a teammate of China's first NBA player Wang Zhizhi.

Li Duan, with a height of 6 feet and 4 inches, broke the Paralympic record of triple jump in class F11 (athletes with total blindness) at his first attempt. He gestured to thousands of hailing spactators to quiet down so as to hear his coach's instructive rhythm.

He won one silver and bronze at his Paralympic debut in Sydney and took two gold medals in Athens, making himself a popular model to encourage about 80 million disabled in China with a special casting public good advertisement on TV.

"Losing eyesights does not mean losing the direction of the progress, although can't see the national flag's waving, I could make the national anthem resound..." he always said in the advertisement.

"After beginning my training in the new sport, I found new enjoyment and the same feeling of self-exceeding," Li said, adding that the disabled in China have better social status.

"The volunteers at Beijing Paralymic Games have provided heart-to-heart services since they really know the needs of the disabled," he said. "They treated in a way that didn't make us feel we are different.

"We have been better treated in job markets, we have more social welfare and even the president also came to our training center to show his encouragement."

Li Duan said the Paralympic Games could be a perfect channel and bridge for the people, disabled and non-disabled, to get along with each other in a closer way, urging the public not to differentiate the disabled too much in their daily lives.

The third-time Paralympic champion said he would spare some time to go to southwest China's Sichuan Province which was seriously hit by an earthquake that killed about 80,000 people.

"I want to visit the quake affected region and children there to encourage them with new hopes," he said. "I am looking forward to some disabled survived from the quake competing at the London Paralympic Games four years later."

Source:Xinhua

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