China's gymnastics ace Zou feels less stressed toward Paris 2024 after bagging 2 golds in Hangzhou
Published: Oct 01, 2023 05:43 PM
Zou Jingyuan Photo: CFP

Zou Jingyuan Photo: CFP

Zou Jingyuan, the Tokyo Olympic champion five-time world champion, defended his titles in the men's team and men's parallel bars events at the Hangzhou Asian Games. The 25-year-old Chinese gymnastics ace talked about his physical condition and mindset, as well as his goals for next year's Olympics in Paris in an exclusive interview with the Global Times. He said he has felt less pressure for Paris after claiming the gold medals.

Zou competed in two individual events at the Asian Games, the men's parallel bars and rings, and he was also a member of the Chinese men's team. He said he was "quite satisfied" with his performance throughout the event.

"For me, the main thing is that in the team event I displayed my level of training," Zou, nicknamed "king of the parallel bars," told the Global Times.

Zou competed in the men's team competition in two individual apparatuses, the double bar and the rings. In both of the apparatuses, the Chinese team came in first place overall. Zou also praised the performance of his teammates, especially Zhang Boheng, who competed in all the events, saying he played an important and crucial role.

China narrowly defeated Japan in the men's team competition to clinch the title, just three points ahead. Zou said he was impressed by the Japanese team's performance. "The city brings us a lot of luck," he said after the match. 

Snatching gold with an incomparable lead, Zou shrugged off the overwhelming compliment, saying that his performance was not perfect. 

"I did not choose to increase the difficulty. The difficulty of this set is still a bit low compared to next year's Paris Olympics," he said. "These games are the cornerstone of the Paris Olympics."

In the other individual event he participated in, Zou only ranked sixth in the rings, seemingly affected by his injury. However, answering the Global Times, Zou dismissed the influence from injury.

"My injury is within a controllable range," he said. "In fact, it is the same for the opponents. They also face a lot of injuries and are also challenging themselves."

As the defending Olympic champion, Zou said he faces Paris with less tension and pressure than he did two years ago.

"Of course, the freshness during the competition is different," he told the Global Times. "But during training, I think there will be less pressure than before. I won't be fighting myself as much as before."

Speaking about his expectations for Paris, he said he expects to do well in Paris in what he didn't do well in Tokyo.

Immediately after the Asian Games, the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championship began in Antwerp, Belgium. Since the Chinese men's team has already qualified for Paris, the male athletes involved in the Asian Games will no longer be involved in the World Championships, as more opportunities will be offered to other teammates.

For his teammates who will soon start the World Championships, Zou said he hopes they will not have too much pressure.

"Of course I would want them to take the title, but more than that, I hope they can display themselves without pressure," he said. "In terms of results, it also depends on their opponents' performance."

As for Zou and his teammates who are participating in the Asian Games, they will get a rare vacation after that. "But it makes no difference to me whether I take a vacation or not," Zou said. "I will still train every day. As the days go by, it is closer to the Olympics."