For the 35-year-old wheelchair fencer Qi Kaili, the Beijing Paralympic Games would be a brand new experience as she chose to be a volunteer this time.
Qi, a member of the epee winning team at the 2006 Wheelchair Fencing World Cup, will not compete in the Beijing Paralympics but becomes a volunteer in the powerlifting event instead.
"I used to be a receiver of others' services and help, but this time I want to be a provider," said Qi, who injured her spinal cord during a training at the age of 19 and became complete paralysis since then. "I enjoy the feeling of helping others."
It is the first day Qi worked as a volunteer. "I will provide service in the media working room," said Qi happily. "To be a volunteer is a very proud thing."
"I really hoped that I could compete in the Beijing Paralympic Games, and it's very important to me," said Qi. "But I was pregnant in 2006, so I missed the World Championships and lost the chance to compete on my home soil. It is a pity, so I decided to take part in the Paralympics in another way."
"Now my boy is one year and nine months, and taking care of him takes most of my time," said Qi. "I really don't have time to go back to training after his birth."
Qi, who had been a talented high jumper before injury, has never lost her passion and optimism.
"I was lying on the hospital and I couldn't feel anything below my chest," said Qi. "I realized that I was going to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I asked myself what would happen, but I didn't have answers."
It was in the China Rehabilitation Research Center where Qi found the answers. Like the hospital, the center could do nothing to her injury, but the rehab programs turned her into one of the most upbeat and positive patients there.
She was trained with other patients and that inspired her spirit of rivalry. "I told myself that if I do, I should try my best. I should be the best in my level," Qi said. "And I found the answer of my question here, which would be: nothing will change, and I will face my life bravely in a wheelchair."
Qi started to play wheelchair fencing in 1994, and after three-month hard training, she became a winner in the 6th Far East & South Pacific Games for the Disabled.
"The victory gave me lots of confidence. I knew I could still win even in a wheelchair," Qi said.
After the Far East & South Pacific Games for the Disabled, Qi went back to the Beijing University of Science and Technology and continued her study. Following graduation in 1996, Qi started to learn law by herself, and after one-year hard efforts, she passed the bar examination.
Besides wheelchair fencer, Qi was also a website editor. "The best part of this job is I can work at home. I work six hours a day, and I'd like to read some books in my spare time. Now, the most important thing for me is to look after my son," said Qi.
(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2008)