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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 16:18 GMT 17:18 UK
China girl swims with bound limbs
Huang Li and her father Huang Daosheng
Mr Huang says he cannot afford a swimming coach for his daughter
A 10-year-old girl has swum for three hours with bound hands and feet in a southern China river, prompting accusations of abuse, state media said.

Huang Li paddled 3km (1.8 miles) of the Xiang River as an endurance test to fulfil her dream of swimming the English Channel, her father said.

Huang Daosheng, who described his daughter as a swimming "prodigy", said she insisted on completing the swim.

China will host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing in August.

'Heroine'

Huang Li, from Zhangjiajie in central Hunan province, swam along the Yangtze River tributary on Tuesday as her parents looked on, Xinhua news agency reported.

Next time, she will swim farther and I'll follow her in a boat to ensure safety
Huang Daosheng
Father of Huang Li

Her father, a schoolteacher who has been coaching her since she learned to swim aged five, told Xinhua she had already achieved greater feats.

But he said he could not afford to pay for a swimming coach.

"She stood out as a heroine in a [TV] sports programme last year by swimming continuously for nine hours, or nearly 14km (8.7 miles), in Lishui River," Mr Huang said.

"Next time, she will swim farther and I'll follow her in a boat to ensure safety."

Bystanders accused the girl's parents of abusing and exploiting her, Xinhua said.

But Mr Huang rejected the accusations, saying her swim was much easier than the 3,550km (2,200 mile) run completed by an eight-year-old Chinese girl in August.

Zhang Huimin attracted international attention when she ran from the southern province of Hainan to Beijing in the summer months of July and August.

The girl completed about 1.5 marathons (64km, 40 miles) every day as her father rode alongside her on a bicycle.

He said the feat was aimed at drawing attention to her Olympic potential before the Beijing games.

The Chinese public is expecting the country to top the medal tally at the games.

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