Chinese Dancer Paralyzed in Fall

Liu Yan was rehearsing for opening ceremonies; may never walk again
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 14, 2008 7:23 AM CDT

(Newser) – One of China’s top classical dancers may have been paralyzed for life during rehearsals for the Olympics' opening ceremonies, the New York Times reports. Liu Yan was to perform the show’s only solo number, until she missed a jump to a malfunctioning platform 12 days ago, falling 10 feet. Initially, Chinese authorities insisted she had only broken her leg; in truth, she dislocated her 11th vertebra, losing all feeling below the waist.

Sources tell the Daily Telegraph that Liu was left lying in agony for 50 minutes before paramedics could get to her, thanks to the strict cordon around rehearsals. Eventually she underwent six hours of surgery, but doctors say it is unlikely she will ever walk again. “I never imagined I could suffer such a tragedy,” she said. “I hope one day I can just stand up like a normal person.”