Haven Faith Shepherd, now 18, was blown 10 metres in the air in a blast in 2004 caused by her disturbed father, who had strapped a bomb to his own body and unthinkably, also to his wife.
Both were killed inside the family’s thatched hut in Vietnam.
Her parents were having extramarital affairs, Ms Shepherd was later told, and her father purchased the bombs when he could no longer bear their situation, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Miss Shepherd recounted in chilling detail how her father gabbed hold of her too, just 16 months old at the time, before detonating the bombs.
In the explosion that followed Haven suffered devastating burns, injuries and blood loss but thankfully was thrown from his arms and survived.
Miss Shepherd was rushed to hospital where both her legs were immediately amputated and her head was shaved ‘to dig the shrapnel from my scalp’.
Strangers paid for her medical care and operations but as her grandparents were so poor, they couldn’t afford the cost of care. She was adopted by an American family, Rob and Shelly Shepherd.
Miss Shepherd had to learn to walk on prosthetic legs while growing up in a new country.
She learned to swim in the family’s backyard pool in Missouri.
Inspired to participate in sports by her six sports-mad siblings – she has four sisters and two brothers – she settled on swimming over running, which she found painful.
In 2013, at just nine years of age, she vowed to one day compete for her adopted country at the Paralympic Games.
Since then she has become a motivational speaker as well as an athlete, a model, brand ambassador and disability advocate.
Miss Shepherd bears no resentment for what happened. ‘That’s a life I never lived; I don’t remember it,’ Haven told People magazine. Instead she sees herself as an example of finding ‘beauty from the ashes’.
This month she fulfils her life-long dream in Tokyo. She will compete in five swimming events: the 100 metre breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly, the 50 metre freestyle and the 200 metre individual medley.
According to dailymail.co.uk