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10-year-old girl was tied hand and foot-wide travel

Huang Li swims in the Xiangjiang River with hands and feet bound on Tuesday.
A 10-year-old girl in Central China's Hunan Province swam for three hours in a tributary of the Yangtze River on Tuesday with hands and feet bound to test her endurance, hoping she would be inscribed into the Guiness Book of World Records someday.

Huang Li, a fourth-grader from Sangzhi County in the city of Zhangjiajie, managed to swim along in the Xiangjiang River with her bound feet as her parents kept an eye on her.

She had covered three kilometers before her mother told her to stop and fed her some cake.

"I know she can still continue, but I fear she might be in danger," said Huang's mother Song Jinfang. "It's getting cold and she had only a bowl of noodles for lunch before she started swimming at 12:45 pm."

For financial reasons, the family had not bought any insurance to protect the girl from potential harms during the swimming.

"Next time, she will swim farther and I'll follow her in a boat to ensure safety," said the father.

The family didn't say whose idea it was to bind the girl's limbs, but the father Huang Daosheng, a middle school teacher, insisted this would help improve the girl's swimming skills and eventually help fulfil her dream to swim across the English Channel.

Huang Li's father said she is a swimming prodigy. She learned to swim at five and her father has been her coach.

"She stood out as a hero in a sports program of Hunan Cable TV last year by swimming continuously for nine hours, or nearly 14 km, in Lishui River."

The girl was also named after that river.

The girl said her idol is Zhang Jian, a teacher at Beijing's Sports University who made history in 2001 as the first Chinese swimmer to cross the English Channel.

But many bystanders questioned the parents' motive, saying Guiness was more a dream of their own.

"It's dangerous to swim with bound limbs," said a university student surnamed Gao. "What if she had muscle cramp and got drowned?"

"Her parents should realize they are abusing the child," said a mother of a nine-year-old girl.

Huang denied the accusation, saying he could ensure his daughter's safety.

"In fact, I've always wanted to find her a better coach but we don't have the money."

He said her daughter's exercise was far easier than that of Zhang Huimin, an eight-year-old girl who ran 3,560 km from Sanya at the southern tip of the island province of Hainan to Beijing in the hottest months of July and August. Her father followed her on a motorized bicycle.

Zhang got up at 2:30 am every day to train for the run and would have had to run about 65 km a day for 55 days -- the equivalent of about one and a half marathons a day.

Her father Zhang Jianmin, a businessman, was accused of being abusive as health experts said the Beijing run would damage the girl's body and affect her growth. But he insisted the girl enjoyed running and he would do his utmost to support her, including taking part in the Olympic Games in 10 years.


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