Athlete who lost leg in 2008 Wenchuan earthquake wins gold at Paralympic Games
Published: Sep 05, 2021 07:47 PM
China's table tennis player Wang Rui. Photo: Sina Weibo

China's table tennis player Wang Rui. Photo: Sina Weibo

The China's women's table tennis team won a gold medal on Thursday after beating the Netherlands in the final round of the TT6-8 classification event. While the three young women - Mao Jingdian, Huang Wenjuan and Wang Rui - became gold medalists on the same day, they have very different life stories. Among them, Wang's experience surviving China's 2008 Wenchuan earthquake has touched many netizens. 

"I'm a survivor of the Wenchuan earthquake. I appreciate table tennis for giving me a second life," Wang said during an interview after the event. 

The athlete's words were a shock to people as it revealed the story behind her lost right leg. 

Wang was just 15 when the massive earthquake hit Wenchuan county, in Southwest Sichuan Province in 2008, bringing devastation to the area. 

When the tragic event happened, the young girl was sitting in class preparing for an exam. At the time she had never imagined how dramatically her life was about to change. When the earthquake struck, several prefabricated panels hit Wang's legs and buried her under the ground for more than 10 hours before she was finally rescued. While her life was saved, doctors told that her right leg needed to be amputated due to muscle necrosis. 

Even though the extremely traumatic experience initially caused the young girl to lose all hope for the future, her resilience and bravery allowed her to push forward with a new goal in mind: becoming a table tennis player. 

Only a year after her life changed, Wang joined a table tennis team for disabled athletes in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, and started her professional training.

Knowing that she started her career late, she was even more diligent, spending most of her days training. Her training ended up paying off. In 2013, she joined China's national team, and in 2018 she won a gold medal at the Asian Para Games. Finally, she won her ticket to the Tokyo Paralympic Games by winning the gold medal at the Asian Para Table Tennis Championships in 2019. 

Wang's story has not only impressed netizens, but also encouraged them to always see the bright side of life. 

"I remember I was also around her age at that time. Just hearing relatives and people talking about the people who were in danger was horrifying, and yet she was a victim of the earthquake," Chu Shuheng, a netizen in Chengdu, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"I guess she is a symbol that reminds us that there aren't any moments that are so dark they can't be overcome," Chu added. 

During Thursday's match, Wang's team beat the Netherland table tennis group 2-0, winning China its 71st gold at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. 

"When I play the game, I forget I'm disabled," Wang once told media.