Visually impaired twin sisters compete in jump rope, feeling grateful for community support
Dai Kaiyi

The 11th National Games for Persons with Disabilities is being held in China's northwest Shaanxi Province. For Zhang Yating and Zhang Yaqian, a pair of visually impaired twin sisters competing in the jump rope category, it is their chance to shine. 

"We're grateful for the teachers and the school and basically everyone that helped us. We'd love to compete in this event on the school's behalf," said Zhang Yating, the younger sister. 

Many people are not aware of how challenging and how much of a workout jumping rope can be until they try it for the first time. So, one can only imagine what the experience would be like for the visually impaired, in particular, those vying to be professional athletes. 

It takes years of training to begin with, and one needs to love the sport and trust their own potential. That's the case for the twin sisters. 

The training process is not easy for them or their coach, especially in the early stages. 

"It's difficult toward the beginning, because we as coaches need to demonstrate each and every move, and let the students touch our body to learn it," said Yi Wenqing, a coach at the Wuhan School for Blind Children. "We have to break down a set of moves every time we do it, and let them figure it out step by step until they complete the whole routine."

While the twin sisters say they are naturally in sync with each other in many ways, jumping rope still got them tangled up in the early days of their practicing. Step by step, they learned tricks by heart, and they are excited to be part of the Games on a national level. 

Their coach says the competition is just one goal of being here. Even more important, he says, is the opportunity to widen their horizon, meeting more people and making new friends from other parts of China. 

"To attend this game is also a chance for them to feel that they are surrounded by love from the whole community, and the support and care of the disabled on a national scale," added Yi. "Most importantly, we want them to have fun during this trip."

The sisters say they didn't do their best this time, but they will keep on polishing their skills, in part to pay back those who have been helping and taking care of them. 

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