Paralympic staff and netizens celebrate 20th birthday with China's first para Alpine skiing gold medalist
Published: Mar 10, 2022 07:58 PM
Zhang Mengqiu. Photo: CFP

Zhang Mengqiu. Photo: CFP

Zhang Mengqiu clinched China's first Alpine skiing gold at the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Winter Games on Monday, but that is not her only cause to celebrate as she turned 20 years old on Wednesday. As birthday wishes spilled in from netizens, the young athlete spent her 20th birthday with Payalympic mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon and workers at the Winter Paralympic village.

Zhang has so far earned two silver medals in addition to her gold in events including the Women's Downhill Standing and Women's Super-G Standing.

She made history by helping Team China make a breakthrough in para Alpine skiing at the Paralympic Winter Games.

Workers at the Winter Paralympic village had prepared Zhang's birthday gift ahead of time. Presents included a bouquet of flowers, a cake with her portrait and a coloring book. The mascot of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics Shuey Rhon Rhon also came to celebrate the birthday with Zhang in the village.

"All of us are into Zhang's optimistic personality and fighting spirit. The girl has won many followers through her shining merits. We are giving her a coloring book because we hope that Mengqiu will draw a better future through her own efforts," one of workers said, according to China Central Television.

Zhang thanked all the busy people who took time out to celebrate her birthday with her, "On my birthday, I will rest and continue to focus on preparing for the next two competitions in the hopes of achieving better results."

Zhang clocked a winning time of one minute and 13.54 seconds at the Women's Super-G standing race to win China's first-ever gold in the Winter Paralympics Alpine skiing competition. Coming in 1.43 seconds behind Zhang, Marie Bochet of France won silver and Canadian racer Alana Ramsay came in third with a time of 1 minute and 16.84 seconds.

An athlete with cerebral palsy, Zhang may take longer to learn a certain move, but she has never let this deter her. Her coach remarked that she has an indomitable spirit and a willingness to train hard.

Training for six hours a day, six days a week, Zhang said that she wants to get more people to believe they can get the results they want so long as they work hard enough.

The young skier has gained many followers on social media platforms not just because of her stunning performance and powerful will but also her keen fashion sense.

Zhang sported three different hair styles each time she took the podium, each time getting compliments from Chinese netizens.

"My teammates and translators in the national team helped me to complete the style," Zhang said, explaining that she wants to be a cool girl after previously favoring a cuter style.

"The distance between the champion and me grew closer after I found she is also an ordinary girl who deeply loves beauty outside of competitions. I will learn from her fighting spirit on the field and her optimistic attitude toward life," a middle-school student surnamed Fen living in Urumqi, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, told the Global Times on Thursday.