Aussie speaks fluent Mandarin after coma, finds love in China

Mr Ben McMahon matched with Ms Feng Guo in the dating show If You Are The One. They will soon travel to the Maldives for a holiday together.
Mr Ben McMahon matched with Ms Feng Guo in the dating show If You Are The One. They will soon travel to the Maldives for a holiday together.PHOTOS: FROM FACEBOOK PAGE OF BENJAMIN MCMAHON, SBS
Mr Ben McMahon matched with Ms Feng Guo in the dating show If You Are The One. They will soon travel to the Maldives for a holiday together.
Mr Ben McMahon matched with Ms Feng Guo in the dating show If You Are The One. They will soon travel to the Maldives for a holiday together.PHOTOS: FROM FACEBOOK PAGE OF BENJAMIN MCMAHON, SBS

SYDNEY • An Australian man who woke from a coma speaking fluent Mandarin has found love on a Chinese dating show.

Mr Ben McMahon, who briefly lost his ability to speak English after a serious car accident in 2013, matched with Sydney-based lawyer Feng Guo on the Chinese language show If You Are The One. The show is a cultural phenomenon in China, where each episode is watched by up to 50 million people.

Mr McMahon, one of 10 men and 16 women to travel from Australia to China to film the programme, learnt some Mandarin in high school and later travelled in China and studied in Beijing.

But he could not have anticipated that he would briefly lose the ability to speak English after his accident.

"When I came out of that coma, the first words to come out of my mouth were in fluent Mandarin," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

He said the first person he saw was a nurse of Asian appearance and so he had said to her in Mandarin: "Hi, it really hurts here... what happened to me?"

At that time, his thoughts and dreams were also in Mandarin, while his conversation left his parents wondering whether they needed to learn the Asian language.

Mr McMahon and Ms Guo have so far had only one date. They will soon travel to the Maldives on holiday together for the free trip they won on the show.

The programme sees male contestants attempt to win the hearts of 24 women, and the often frank assessments offered between the sexes have won the English-subtitled show popularity.

"I thought I'd put myself out there and find out if I was the one," Mr McMahon told the ABC last Friday. "It's a good insight into Chinese culture and just some of the crazy things that go on and the requirements for relationships," he said of the show.

Mr McMahon said he wanted to use his language skills to forge better cultural communication between China, Australia and the rest of the world.

"In Chinese, there is an idiom that goes along the line of, 'from a tragedy comes something great'," he said.

The show will be broadcast in Australia over two Sundays, with the first episode going on air today.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 14, 2016, with the headline 'Aussie speaks fluent Mandarin after coma, finds love in China'. Print Edition | Subscribe