Paralysed gymnast sues her coaches

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 April, 2011, 12:00am


A former gymnast who was left paralysed from the waist down after a head-first fall from the uneven bars is suing her coaches, claiming negligence contributed to her condition.

Zhang Wei, 15, with the help of her mother, Chen Wanling, filed a writ to the High Court on Tuesday, suing the Gymnastics Association of Hong Kong, China, its head coach, Poon King-hung, and coach Zhong Jian.

Zhang (pictured) is seeking compensation over the fall at the Shun Lee Tsuen Sports Centre in 2008. Zhang fell from the asymmetric bars while attempting a backward somersault, dislocating two cervical vertebrae.

The Form Three student at Diocesan Girls' School uses a wheelchair. She cannot move her fingers and struggles to raise her arms.

In an interview, Zhang said she came to Hong Kong from Guangzhou seven years ago. She has been a gymnast since she was four. Aged 10, she won an inter-school championship on the mainland.

Zhang said that before the accident she asked Zhong, her supervising coach, to set up a 'cotton pool', a kind of safety mattress, because she was not familiar with the routine.

'But Zhong rejected my request because another teammate of mine, who was more experienced, asked not to have the pool,' Zhang said.

Zhong visited her after the accident but had not apologised, Zhang said.

'My life is very difficult now,' Zhang said. 'I can't move my legs. I can't take a shower by myself. I can't go to the toilet by myself. I need people's assistance for most things.'

Zhang's mother left her job as a nurse after the accident.

'I have given up everything to take care of her,' Chen said.

But Zhang said she now had a new dream. 'I want to be doctor.'