24th June 2017
Zhang Haidi, Advocate for the Disabled, Nominated Potential President of International Paralympic Committee
By Kyle Mullin
OlymPicks is an ongoing blog series whereby we highlight news, gossip, and developments regarding the buildup to Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympics.
She’s been called the Helen Keller of China – a paraplegic since childhood who rose above her circumstances to become an advocate for the disabled, as well as a national icon and role model.
Zhang Haidi, the Chairperson of China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), hails from Jinan, Shandong. Her biography details the blood and spinal issues that lead to her undergoing half a dozen major operations before she was even five years old, resulting in the paralysis of her lower body. At the time – the mid 1950s – such a condition kept her from attending school.
Despite that massive setback, Zhang excelled at academics, teaching herself English, German, Japanese, and graduating from Jilin University in 1993.