She swims over ten 0 meters in the pool every training day without legs. Have you ever heard of the Basketball Girl? If you’re wondering how a basketball fits into the story, please join me for today’s new video. Her name is Kyan Hong Yon, and she was born in 1996 to a poor family that lives in Lulu County in southwestern China’s Yunnan Province. They farmed and produced silk for a meager living.
In the year 2000, when she was just four years old, tragedy struck. The young girl was crossing a road with her friends in her hometown when they were hit by a truck. Her friend died while the surgeons could not save her legs. As you can imagine, Kean’s family was devastated. When asked about the accident, the little girl said, I just remember that when I woke up, my legs felt very cold.
I said, Mum put my shoes on for me. But my mum didn’t say anything. Her tears fell into my face and I found that for the rest of my life I wouldn’t have to wear socks or shoes or even pants again. That was the moment that this young girl’s life changed forever. She was born into a modest family.
They are just a family who was barely getting by, and they couldn’t afford the prosthetics that she needed to make her life easier. So her grandfather devised a creative means to help her move from one place to another. Her grandfather taught her to walk using wooden paddles and the help of a basketball cut in half to steady her. He cut open the basketball and lined it with cotton, placing her inside so she could relearn to walk. It was the only solution the family could afford, and it worked.
For five years, these were the only tools that she used to walk. This is how she earned the name Basketball Girl. But with Kean let her challenge define her life? Or will she defy all odds and fight for something better? At the age of nine, the Chinese girl’s story caught on the Chinese press took notice of her story.
A news report and accompanying photo were republished in newspapers nationwide, and with the help of the media, her story traveled not only across her large country, but also spread to other parts of the world. She got the help she needed. This enabled her to travel to China’s capital, Beijing. There, she received her first artificial limbs and was given donations to attend primary school at the China Rehabilitation Center. The staff gradually fitted her with bigger limbs.
As she grew up, however, at the age of eleven, her life took another turn. Kean’s story raised awareness about the plight of disabled people in China’s vast countryside. It took more than an hour for Kean to commute to her elementary school just a seven minute walk away for someone with full mobility. After her first five years of trekking, she’d worn through eight basketballs. But despite all the attention that her story garnered donations for her schooling ran out.
This was another setback for Kean. She had no choice but to return to her family in Yunan. Rather than letting this deter her future, this eleven year old took decisive action. She wanted to join a swimming club. Kean and her parents went to consult the opportunity with Zhang Hong Yu, a wellknown coach who had trained many handicapped swimming Champions.
She joined south of the Cloud, a local swimming club for disabled teens, the first of its kind in the country. For a girl with no legs, swimming would undoubtedly be difficult, but this didn’t phase her. Instead, she stood up to the challenge. In the early days of her career, Kean struggled. When asked about the challenges she faces as a swimmer, she said, I had to give much more than other kids.
When I learned to swim, it seemed there was no way I could float in the water. I was choked. I used to envy my classmates a lot after school. They always went home running and jumping, but I couldn’t do that. But when I’m in the water, I’m the same as them and this is why I love swimming.
It’s so free and relaxing to swim. You can go anywhere you want and it is much freer than on the ground. She had the right mentality and she backed it up with hard work. Initially, she struggled to control her orientation and balance, but Kean did not let her unique challenges stop her from dreaming big. She wanted to be a part of the National Para Olympic Games, so at the club she trained for 4 hours every day.
And guess what? Her hard work paid off. Her coach States that she swims over ten 0 meter in the pool every training day. Her coach said this about her work ethic. Kyan Hongyan studies hard.
She never grouches in training, although she was confronted with many difficulties at the beginning. After a short period, I saw that she was gifted in swimming. I couldn’t ensure she would be a world champion. However, I can tell that she is definitely a promising swimmer. Our biggest wish is to train her to have a positive attitude in life.
In 2009, not only did she make it to the Paralympics game, the basketball girl won medals. She won gold in two silver medals at the Chinese National Paralympic Swimming Competition. In the year, she had received four gold and five silver medals in similar games. She had also won medals in other provincial and national competitions. For Kean, the sky was the limit and she was a source of inspiration for other teenagers.
Isn’t that amazing? However, in 2012, this swimmer had her sight set on participating in the London Paralympics Games. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. Kean lost her grandfather and this affected her performance at the competition. She received a bronze in the Paralympic qualifiers, but it wasn’t enough for her to secure a spot on the plane to London.
Was this going to be the end of her promising career? But over the years, Kean has learned to not play by the rules and to not let any challenge stop her from chasing her goal. So what did she do? She knuckled down and worked harder. She received adult prosthetics when she was 18 and she proved again that with hard work you can beat the challenges life throws at you.
Keon qualified for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games ahead of the game. She said. Before I learned to swim, I was a basketball girl. I walked out of my home and saw the world from a low angle. Then, after I was fitted with a pair of prosthetics, I saw the world at my regular height.
Since I started swimming and taking part in the Para Olympics, I now feel like I have a much wider worldview. I know what my challenges are and it hasn’t been easy to make it here. After I lost my grandpa, it was very hard to concentrate on anything because we were very close and I loved him so much. But when I couldn’t qualify for the London Games, I was so sad. But over the years I’ve learned to not give up.
Instead, with the help of my coach and my family, I just worked harder and I can’t wait to be in Brazil. Zhang was also very proud of her achievement. He stated that the teenager was changing the mindset of people towards disabled people. People despise the disabled. They thought they were all beggars, just asking for money.
But now when they see disabled swimmers like these, they can see how hard they’re driving themselves and that’s a start, he said. Her emergence, however, earned her a new nickname, Fish Girl. Being at the Summer Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro was a dream come true for Kean. Representing her country at a global sports festival is the greatest honor. The disabled swimmer placed 9th in the 100 meters breaststroke and didn’t advance.
However, her dad States his daughter won when she qualified for the Games. I am so proud of her, very proud. When we were watching my mother and I couldn’t help but cry. We never thought she would reach this height and our girl was already a champion. I know she wanted to win, but when she called me after the race, I said to her, you are my champion.
Kyan now has a desk job in Yunnan when she’s not swimming. She had hoped to be a part of China’s swimming team at the 2020 Summer Para Olympics that took place in Tokyo, but she didn’t make the cut. Whatever happens in her career from now on, Kyan and her family are thrilled. She has already proven at with hard work and a bit of luck, anything is possible. She remains a source of inspiration for millions of people around the world.