Liu Yan, who was to perform the solo dance "Silk Road" in the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games, is now lying in hospital, paralyzed.
She fell from a three meter high platform during rehearsals in the evening of July 27 after the vehicle carrying the platform moved without warning.
She was rushed to hospital, where surgeons worked through the night on a six hour operation. But when Liu regained consciousness, the lower part of her body was numb. Doctors said her spinal cord had been damaged.
Liu Yan, the Olympic opening ceremony dancer, who was paralyzed after an accident, smiles for the cameras.
Liu Yan's anxious parents rushed to Beijing from Hohhot to be at their daughter's bedside.
The three directors of the Olympic opening ceremony, Zhang Yimou, Zhang Jigang and Chen Weiya all visited Liu in hospital, as did as her colleagues from the Beijing Dance Academy.
Opening ceremony director Zhang Yimou was heartbroken by Liu Yan's injury. "You sacrificed so much for the Olympics and for China. I am terribly upset. We are all so grateful for your work. Please get well as soon as possible," he told her. Deputy director Zhang Jigang, his eyes full of tears, said, "You will be our leading dancer forever. Your name will be written in the program as the leading dancer."
Liu Yan won a silver medal in the Lotus Cup National Dancing Competition at the age of 19, a gold medal in the Sixth National Dancing Competition in 2004 for the solo dance "Yan Zhi Kou" (Rouge), and a gold medal in the 2005 Lotus Cup for the dance "Orange Is Ripe". In 2007 she won the only recorded double prize in the China Wen Hua Awards Competition for the dance dramas "Zhu Cheng Ji" (A Tale of Rebuilding the Town) and "Red River Valley". She also won first place at the first Asia Youth Arts Festival in 2007.
In her first photo after injury, Liu Yan smiled like a winner and made a victory sign. "I'm not going to feel sorry for myself. I fell at the Olympics, but I will be back to create beauty for the world in one way or another," she said.
(China.org.cn by Wu Jin and Hou Xiaoying, August 13, 2008)