Indian blind swimmer Kanchan Mala D Pande waits for her registration at the welcome center. [Photo by Sun Xiaochen / China Daily]
Guangzhou - Every child has talent of some sort and the only thing needed is for he or she to discover it.
Kanchan Mala D Pande, a visually disabled Indian girl, discovered that swimming was how she could transform her life.
"I tried to swim for the first time when I was 10. And soon I found that I felt more relaxed and comfortable in the water than on the ground although I still couldn't see anything," said the 20-year-old Pande, who will take part in the S11 class 50m and 100m freestyle and 100m backstroke at the Guangzhou Asian Para Games.
"Normal people couldn't open their eyes and see in the water without wearing goggles. So staying under water, I feel nothing different to them. And I feel peaceful in the water where I can tell directions by following sounds."
She not only felt better in water, but she was also able to move faster there. Pande finally discovered her untapped potential in the swimming pool.
After training hard during breaks from school for several years, the girl made her name at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Para Games, breaking six world records, which almost paralleled genius swimmer Michael Phelps' seven at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
In 2009, Pande shared with India's badminton star Saina Nehwalwon the Aspire Skillsworld Award, which is the top honor for young athletes in India.
"Before the Melbourne Games I could never have imagined my incredible performance. But I did it and I am very proud of myself," Pande said.
"And I also am grateful to swimming which brought happiness and confidence to my once depressed life," Pande told China Daily at the welcome center in the Athletes' Village.
Apart from talent, Pande also has a sense of adventure.
Swimming in the ocean might be a challenge for most people with good eyesight but Pande includes it in her daily training program. The only help she needs is for someone on a boat to lead her with a whistle.
"Yeah, it's a little dangerous for me to swim in the sea. The waves or some mishap may mess up my orientation as I try to follow the sound," she said. "But I like to be adventurous. I know it's risky, but I enjoy challenging the unknown."
Besides swimming, Pande has similar hobbies to other teenagers, such as basketball and music.
"My second favorite sport is basketball. I often listen to basketball games on the radio, especially the NBA. And I like classical music."