QH. Tireless journey: "With unyielding will, the legless girl became a professional swimmer after many years of effort".

QH. Tireless journey: “With unyielding will, the legless girl became a professional swimmer after many years of effort”.

In the tranquil landscapes of Luling County, Qunqing City, Yunnan Province, China, a tale of remarkable resilience and unwavering determination unfolds. At the heart of this narrative stands Hong Diem, a young girl whose radiant smile once captured the attention of all who crossed her path. Yet, Hong Diem’s story is far from ordinary. Unlike her peers, she bore the weight of an extraordinary challenge that she turned into an opportunity to rewrite her destiny.

From a tender age, Hong Diem’s life took an unexpected turn. A serious traffic accident, a cruel twist of fate, left her without her lower body when she was just four years old. A path no child should traverse, she emerged from the ordeal with remarkable strength and a willpower that would leave an indelible mark on the world. Unable to afford a prosthetic leg, her family’s resilience found an ingenious solution – her grandfather carved a basketball into her lower body, a makeshift yet functional measure that allowed her to move with the strength of her arms. This unique appearance earned her the affectionate moniker “basketball girl,” a testament to her indomitable spirit.

Despite the challenges that life imposed upon her, Hong Diem’s determination remained unshaken. In the face of adversity, she embraced her circumstances and seized every opportunity that came her way. A turning point arrived in 2005 when the government provided her with a chance for treatment at a prestigious Beijing hospital, a lifeline that ignited a newfound passion and purpose within her. The bustling capital became a canvas on which she painted her dreams, and the pool, her sanctuary. Swimming, a realm where her limitations dissolved, became her canvas for resilience and growth.

Hong Diem’s journey in the pool was not without its share of doubts and introspection. The scars left behind by her accident bore a constant reminder of her trials, but her spirit remained unbreakable. Amidst the sea of healing bodies, she stood steadfast, facing her fears head-on. The pool, once a source of apprehension, transformed into a symbol of her triumph over fear and self-doubt. The journey was arduous, demanding rigorous training and unwavering dedication, but her inner strength proved mightier than any obstacle in her path.


Years of relentless effort culminated in a string of victories that would make even the able-bodied pause in admiration. Hong Diem’s accolades ranged from three gold medals at the Provincial Games to three Paralympic silver medals. Her unwavering spirit and unyielding perseverance propelled her beyond the confines of her physical limitations. However, one medal remained elusive – an Olympic gold.

In 2013, a beacon of hope illuminated Hong Diem’s path once more when doctors bestowed upon her a pair of prosthetic legs, forever altering her physical stature. As her height reached new heights, her courage soared even higher. Yet, amidst her triumphs, a poignant longing lingered – a fear that her resilience might render her undeserving of love. Such are the complex emotions of a warrior who has journeyed through the crucible of adversity.


Presently, Hong Diem stands as a beacon of hope, a full-time employee at a center dedicated to serving the Association of People with Disabilities in her hometown. Her unyielding desire to empower others facing similar challenges fuels her commitment to their well-being. Her evolution from “basketball girl” to a force of positive change has been nothing short of remarkable.

Hong Diem’s journey is one that encapsulates the human spirit’s boundless potential, reminding us that true strength is not measured by the absence of adversity, but by the courage to persevere despite it. In her story, we find the embodiment of resilience, the personification of determination, and the embodiment of grace in the face of hardship. Hong Diem, the “Basketball Girl,” has taught us that the power to redefine destiny lies within us all, waiting to be ignited by the spark of determination.

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