Her bikini sparkled as she crossed the stage, her movements surprisingly graceful for someone with a stiletto on one foot and a crutch under her arm to help her balance.
Then to cheers and applause, one-legged bodybuilder Gui Yuna (35) took first place at the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) in Beijing in the women’s category.
Yuna has come a long way since her school days as a little girl bullied by cruel students. She lost her leg when she was hit by a truck while walking home from school when she was seven years old.
That life-changing event still brings tears to her eyes when she recalls the torment she faced from school bullies who would kick her crutches or pull her chair away to make her fall over. “They called me a cripple or 'three-legged cat'. Most of the time it was language [verbal] abuse like that. Sometimes there [was] physical abuse too. The first time they made me fall, I cried. But then I got used to it and thought: 'You can bully me however you want, but I'll be fine as long as I have a brave heart’.”
That fighting spirit, she believes, won her the first place.
“I didn't imagine I could win first place but it's possible that I did, not because of my professionalism or muscles, but because of my confidence and bravery to stand on the stage,” she told World Is One News.
Despite the formidable odds she faced, Yuna embraced athletics and in 2001 she got involved in paralympic sports and represented China at the 2004 Games, finishing seventh in her long jump category.
She also did high jump and later archery and took part in the torch relay for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games and Paralympics, before exploring the world of competitive bodybuilding.
Images of her victory at the bodybuilding competition saw her become a viral sensation in China, boosting her already-popular TikTok page to which she regularly posts videos of her gruelling gym workouts.
“Many people think that fate has been unkind to me, but I don't think so. I'm thankful for these hardships. Why do I say that? Because of this: I grew up . . . it made my heart stronger and made me who I am today.”