Yang Liwan: China's Javelin Paralympics Champion

September 14, 2012
By Xu Xiaocheng/Wu ShuibaoEditor: Zhao Liangfeng

It is two in the morning in the Yang household, and Yang Huaquan, 64, is still watching the television with his 61-year-old wife. Since the beginning of the preliminary matches of the London Paralympic Games 2012, they have been anxiously awaiting the results, hoping that their daughter, Yang Liwan, will win the shot put and javelin events.

Yang Liwan wins two gold medals in the women's shot put and javelin events at the London Paralympic Games. [sohu.com]

Yang Liwan wins two gold medals in the women's shot put and javelin events at the London Paralympic Games. [sohu.com]

When the scores appear on the screen, the Yangs cheer in happiness. Their daughter has won both categories.

After she won, Yang did what most girls do after a momentous life event: she called her mother. "Mom, I managed to raise our country's flag at the medal presentation ceremony," she said, overjoyed.

"I couldn't help shedding tears when I heard her voice on the phone," said Yang's mother.

Promising Beginnings

Yang grew up in Quanzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province. Her life was set to take on a normal trajectory of school and work when one day, one of her father's friends, Wang, visited them and discovered her.

"Your daughter is tall enough to play basketball. She could make a good professional basketball player," said Wang to Yang's father.

Under Wang's recommendation, He, a basketball coach from the Fujian sports team, visited the Yang family and made her an offer. After days of discussion, the family finally decided to accept it.

However, not long after joining the basketball team, Yang's coach realized she had more aptitude for volleyball, and transferred her to the provincial volleyball team, where she soon took the lead.


In 1996, when Yang was doing a routine power exercise, a 50-kg bar bell slipped from her grasp and crushed her legs and waist.

In the weeks that followed, Yang fought to overcome her injuries. "I longed to stand up and continue playing volleyball," said Yang.

Facing the setback, Yang refused to be beat. She began physical rehabilitation, hoping that she would be able to walk again.

"I have taken care of her for so many years but the most exhausting time of my life was when she was in hospital," said her mother. "She could not sleep because of the pain. Every time she said it hurt, I wanted to cry."

After treatment, Yang was confined to a wheelchair. In winter, her legs became swollen, and in summer, the muscles withered due to lack of movement. In addition, she lost all feeling in her legs.

To make matters worse, the Yangs lived on the third floor of a building without an elevator. Her brother assumed the responsibility of carrying her up and down the stairs. In order to take care of his sister, he quit his job. Four years later, he opened a lottery shop nearby. "I can take care of her if I'm working nearby," he said.

Second Chance

Yang's second chance at a sporting career came a few years ago when representatives from the local disabled person's federation came to visit her and asked her to take part in disabled sports. Although her parents initially opposed the idea, Yang was reluctant to abandon the sports she loved.

She began training in the shot put, javelin and discus and made rapid progress. In 2007, she attended the national disabled games and won two gold medals in the javelin and shot put events. In 2008, she also attended the Beijing Paralympic Games.

Yang's latest triumph at the London Paralympic Games represents years of surmounted hardships and conquered challenges. Motivated by the first gold medal in London Paralympics on September 1, she won another in javelin by setting a world record on September 7.

(Source: fjsen.com/Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)

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