Sang Lan, a former world-class Chinese gymnast who was tragically paralyzed while preparing for an international event in 1998, gave birth to a baby boy in Beijing Monday.
This is reportedly the first case in which a woman suffering from severe spinal cord injuries has given birth in mainland China.
A family statement on her Sina Weibo microblog said the 32-year-old Sang “gave birth to a baby boy at 0:19 am in Beijing, weighing 2.85 kilos”. She gave birth by caesarean section.
The former athlete got married to Huang Jian, her business agent, in September last year. In January she revealed on her Sina Weibo blog that she was pregnant.
Sang, born on June 11, 1981 in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, was a member of the national women’s gymnastics team and one of the country’s most promising vaulters. She suffered severe spinal injuries when she was preparing for the Goodwill Games held in New York in 1998. She was then 17 years old.
She has been wheelchair-bound ever since, having been paralyzed from the mid-chest down.
Despite her abrupt retirement from active sports, Sang became an instant celebrity in China and the United States, where she underwent rehabilitation. “If I can get better, I’ll play table tennis and get ready to compete in the Paralympic Games,” she once said.
On her return to China, she began advocating for the rights and welfare of the disabled.
Sang graduated from the School of Journalism and Communication of Beijing University, and was Beijing’s ambassador in its successful quest to host the Olympic Games in 2008.
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