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Ma Lin won the silver medal at Paralympics 2020

Ma Lin won the men’s Silver medalists at the Paralympics Tokyo 2020.

Ma Lin was attacked by a bear and lost his arm

Ma is one of three former Chinese competitors who are competing in the Paralympics for the first time in Australia’s green and gold.

Ma lost his right arm at the age of five when he was bitten by a bear at a zoo near his home in provincial China in the mid-1990s.

bear attack
bear attack

When he went to pat the bear through a small opening in the fence, he was attacked. While his serious injuries could have killed him and altered the path of his life, he has instead made the best of a bad situation.

In the mid-1990s, a brown bear ate the naturalized Australian’s right arm at a zoo near his family’s home in provincial China.

Ma Lin was just five years old at the time, and he was lucky to survive the attack after losing so much blood. It changed the trajectory of his life, yet he still doesn’t hold the confined animal responsible.

He thought the bear was his friend

“I used to go to the zoo every week to feed him, so I thought he was my friend,” Ma Lin said.

“So, I just reached out and patted him, but I guess he wasn’t feeling well that day.”

Ma Li’s right arm was bitten clean through between the elbow and shoulder by the big bear, which chewed through all the bone and flesh, leaving just a few tendons attached to the lower half of his arm.

Despite the fact that blood was streaming from the cut, he remained alert and awake.

“I guess I was a little taken aback,” he admitted. “However, I did not cry. “Not even once.”

Ma Lin’s playmate, a six-year-old who had also come to the zoo with him, dashed across the road to call his parents for assistance, while a group of visitors who witnessed the horrifying episode hurried Ma Lin to the hospital in a cab because there was no time to wait for an ambulance.

Australia’s former Chinese competitors Yang Qian, Ma Lin and Lei Lina
Australia’s former Chinese competitors Yang Qian, Ma Lin, and Lei Lina

The surgeons spared his life but were unable to save the lower portion of his arm, so it was amputated at the shoulder, which Ma Lin only learned about when he awoke from the procedure and asked his parents the one question that had been bothering him.

He explained, “I just wanted to know if I’d be able to find a partner when I was older.” “I was overjoyed when they said ‘of course.’”

He now considers one of the best para table tennis in Australia

After watching China win all four gold medals available at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, including Guoliang Liu’s victory in the men’s singles, he was motivated to take up table tennis.

Ma was competing at global championships less than a decade after his near-death experience, winning a gold medal at the Beijing Paralympics in 2008, two more in London four years later, and one more in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Bear attack survivor Ma Lin aiming for his first Australian gold in Tokyo
Bear attack survivor Ma Lin aiming for his first Australian gold in Tokyo


Today, he won the silver medal at the Paralympics Tokyo 2020. Congratulation to Ma Lin.


Ma Lin
Ma Lin

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Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

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