Hard-working athletes bear fruit for China at Rio Paralympics

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/19 9:49:59

China achieved its aim set before the Rio Paralympics to finish at the top of the medal standings, just as they did at the previous three Games in Athens, Beijing and London.

But nobody could have imagined the success the 308-strong Chinese delegation would achieve in Rio as they became only the third country to win 100 gold medals in a single edition of the Paralympic Games.

China finished the 11-day megaevent with 107 gold, 81 silver and 51 bronze medals. The next best nation was Britain with 64 gold followed by Ukraine (41), the United States (40) and Australia (22).

Only the United States and Britain had previously achieved a century of gold medals at a single Paralympics. Both did so at the 1984 Games in New York City, when the US claimed 136 victories and Britain 107.

Zhang Haidi, chef de mission of the Chinese Paralympic delegation, said China's success reflected the country's efforts to provide an expansive support structure for athletes with disabilities.

"The medals of Chinese Paralympians come from the hard training of athletes and all of society's care for people with disabilities," Zhang said.

"Some people said that it is easy for China to win a medal, but behind the scenes our athletes have made a huge effort to get to the top level, even more than athletes without disabilities. We also have 17 sports training centers in China for people with disabilities."

It was more than simply the sheer volume of gold medals that surprised China's rivals in Rio. Some 17 gold medals came in team events, compared to just three in London four years ago.

China also had unprecedented success in events such as wheelchair racing - winning 16 finals - and wheelchair fencing, which yielded nine gold medals.

"The success is also thanks to the popularization of sports among people with disabilities," Zhang said. "More severely disabled athletes from China have competed in Rio. China emphasizes that sports can aid a lot in their rehabilitation.

"Only few people with disabilities can win a medal at the Paralympics. Back in China, there are around 85 million disabled people. The Paralympic Games and the medals won by Chinese athletes will be a big motivation for them, reminding them that we can reach our goals if we train hard," Zhang added.

Swimming was China's most prolific event in Rio, delivering 37 gold medals, followed by athletics (32), table tennis (13), wheelchair fencing (9), shooting (5), powerlifting (3), archery (3), cycling (3) and judo (2).

The most successful Chinese athlete was swimmer Huang Wenpan with five gold medals. He was followed by fellow swimmer Li Zhang (4), wheelchair racer Zhou Hongzhuan (3), swimmer Zou Liankang (3), wheelchair fencer Zhou Jingling (3), swimmer Wang Yinan (3), swimmer Pan Shiyun (3), swimmer Cheng Jiao (3), swimmer Xu Qing (3) and wheelchair fencer Rong Jin (3).

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