China's Yu Jing makes historic debut in Para ice hockey as the only woman on the rink
Published: Mar 09, 2022 11:20 PM
Yu Jing competes at the Beijing Winter Paralympic Games on March 8, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

Yu Jing competes at the Beijing Winter Paralympic Games on March 8, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

The Chinese Para ice hockey team saw another victory at the Beijing Winter Paralympic Games on Wednesday. As the only woman on the rink, China's Yu Jing felt she already accomplished her dream of inspiring more women into Para sports.

Team China defeated the Czech Republic 4 to 2 on the qualifying final after a fierce match at the National Indoor Stadium. Even though Para ice hockey is a mixed sport it has few female players. Yu became the third woman on the ice after the Norwegians Brit Mjaasund Oeyen in 1994 and Lena Schroeder in 2018.

"I hope through my participation in the Winter Paralympics, more women with disabilities will have more courage to involve in sports like this. If others can make it, then anyone can do it," Yu said in an interview after the  competition on March 8, the International Women's Day.

Yu is the only woman participating in Para ice hockey and also the oldest at the Games in Beijing. "The youngest player is half my age, so it is not too much to call me aunt," Yu joked in front the camera.

Yu began her ice hockey career only two years ago and the good team results made her quite excited considering her long training.  "I played well with my teammates today and I am excited. The flowers that the volunteers gave me make me very happy," Yu said.

An illness during her childhood left Yu with a disability on her left leg but she never lost her enthusiasm for sports. From fencing, archery, to wheelchair volleyball and basketball, Yu is good at all sports that she has tried.

Similar to wheelchair basketball, Para ice hockey players also sit on a sleigh. In 2019, with the help of the Disabled Persons Federation in Shandong Province, Yu, who was already good at basketball, began her ice hockey training from scratch. 

She successfully completed her first training session, and as she recalled, "I felt quite talented so I grew confidence right away." 

"Though I had the support of the sled, it was still very difficult to skate through the whole game. But thinking about the opportunity to participate in the Winter Paralympics here, I tried hard and kept going," Yu added.

The limitation of her left leg has little impact on Yu's life. "I know what kind of person I am and what kind of life I want to live so the appearance does not affect me," she said.

While working as an accountant, a coffee shop manager, and a designer, Yu always did her best. After setting the Beijing Winter Paralympics as her new goal, she quit her job to train full time even though she was 36 years old at the time.

"For many people, the strength of ice hockey makes it look like an exclusive sport for men, but I think women can do the same."