Born in 1975 in the city of Jiamusi in the province of Heilongjiang, China, Hou Bin lost his left leg in a devastating train accident when he was just nine years old. Today, he is a motivational speaker, a three-time Paralympic champion in the high jump, and a former ambassador for Beijing’s bid for the Winter Olympics.

“I wanted to tell them my story, so I could have every opportunity to affect their lives.”

“I’d been depressed for three decades, and suddenly there was a stage that gave me the chance to speak from my heart. When I laugh, my audience laughs with me. When I cry, they cry too.”

He was also selected to light the Paralympic flame during the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing. He lifted himself and his wheelchair up on a rope by strength of arms to the top of Beijing National Stadium, where he lit the cauldron to mark the beginning of the Games. Adding to his impressive resume, an adventure seeker himself, he has also explored the Arctic, swam in the icy waters off Antarctica, and engaged in extreme endurance footraces across Mongolia’s Gobi Desert.