Veteran Olympic shuttler sets sights on Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games as coach

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/9/30 14:22:29

Former No.1 badminton singles player Dong Jiong is aiming to snatch a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, not for himself, but for the Chinese national badminton players with disabilities whom he is coaching.

Badminton will for the first time be included as a Paralympic event in the Tokyo 2020 Games.

Dong's work with players who have disabilities, however, has been a long time in the making.

In 2007, the silver medalist of Atlanta Olympic Games 1996 learned that China has many badminton players with disabilities. So, he called the China Disabled Persons Federation (CDPF) and offered to help this group.

The 43 year-old took the helm of the national team of players with disabilities in 2009. His first mission was leading the team to play in the 2009 Deaflympics.

"To teach disabled players was much harder than it seemed. By reading lips they can understand what you say, but they can't follow you if you speak too fast," said Dong.

To help the players understand his tactical intentions, Dong writes tips and draws tricks on a board.

Dong says he does not take it easy on the team; to the contrary, he coaches them with the same intensity as he did the regular national badminton squad.

"I became unconsciously as strict with them as I was in the Chinese national badminton team. During the Asian Para Games 2010, I was so nervous that I lost 10 kilos in a week," Dong said.

He has taken steps like developing different training plans for players with different kinds of disabilities. He also managed to get the team sponsored equipment.

Dong has also earned accolades for his work in this field from Chinese sports authorities.

"This Olympic medalist has tried his best to support Paralympic sports development. He has strengthened the foundation of disabled sports in China through his work," said Zhao Sujing, director of CDPF sports department.

Even though the 2020 Games is still four years off, Dong is wasting no time. He has been selecting and appointing rising stars since 2011. "I went to different places seeking players," Dong said.

He went to mountainous rural areas and asked local officials to make lists of all the teenagers with disabilities there. He then gave tryouts to everyone on the lists.

For various reasons, not every aspiring player made the team.

"There was a boy whose arm was amputated because he was badly injured in a fight. He told me that he really wanted to join us, but I had to turn him down because I tolerate no violence in my team," Dong told Xinhua.

Dong selected a girl who impressed him a lot. "I couldn't arrive at her home by car, so she was asked to come to see me in her head teacher's home," Dong said.

After being required to go up a slope, the girl passed Dong's test.

Dong selected several talents in that journey. He also offered them 'jobs' in his badminton club.

"If they can't play for the national team, at least they can make a living here," Dong said.

Dong has even trained some of the players to become assistant coaches of the club in the future. He also arranges classes in a vocational high school in Beijing for the teenagers.

Dong dreams of taking the national team to Paralympic glory at Tokyo 2020.

"These players need an opportunity. And it's time to take it seriously," he said.

Posted in: Olympics

blog comments powered by Disqus