May 25, 1999 12:00 AM

Sang Lan, the 17-year-old Chinese gymnast paralyzed in a fall at last summer’s Goodwill Games, will help Mayor Rudolph Giuliani ring in the new year at Times Square. Lan will help drop the ceremonial lighted ball, an annual tradition watched by approximately 250 million TV viewers. Thousands of people pack Times Square to watch the ball descend a 77-foot flagpole for one minute, until it reaches the bottom at midnight. “This is a special honor, not only to me but also to the Chinese people,” Lan said this week, smiling and waving from her wheelchair. “I love New York. I love you all.” Lan was chosen for “her courage and great good cheer” in dealing with the injury she suffered July 21, said Brendan Sexton, head of the Times Square Business Improvement District.

  • Lan, who has remained in this country to undergo rehabilitation for the spinal injury, said she was working hard. “I am doing my exercises every day,” she said through her U.S. guardian and interpreter, Gina Liu, though Lan also spoke in English — and very nicely.

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