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Ex-Paralympian candidate to lead governing body

By Sun Xiaochen in Abu Dhabi, UAE | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-07 09:04

Zhang Haidi has pledged to increase the global influence of the Paralympic movement, stressing equality and inclusivity, as she runs for the International Paralympic Committee presidency.

Zhang, head of China's National Paralympic Committee, is in a four-way race with Brazil's Andrew Parsons, Denmark's John Petersson and Canada's Patrick Jarvis for the top IPC post, replacing the current president, Philip Craven of Britain.

The election will take place during the ongoing IPC General Assembly in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, with the results to be announced on Friday.

Ex-Paralympian candidate to lead governing body

 

Zhang, who turns 62 this month, is a former 10-meter wheelchair air pistol shooter. She said accessible and equal sports participation for those with impairments has the power to change their lives and help build an inclusive society.

"Through the Paralympic movement, I will seek to build a more inclusive and equal society free of discrimination," Zhang said in her election manifesto.

"I will expand the scope of Paralympic sports and create more opportunities for athletes with impairment to participate. I will extend the reach of the Paralympic movement to all corners of the globe and enhance the power and impact of the Paralympic Games to make it stand as tall as the Olympic Games."

Zhang is the chairwoman of the China Disabled Persons' Federation and was involved in organization of the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. She also led the Chinese team as delegation head to three Paralympics-London 2012, Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016.

The Chinese delegation's convincing performances to top the medal tables in London, Rio and at the recent World Para Athletics Championships have underlined the country's successes in improving the scale, access and competition level of parasports under Zhang's leadership.

As China makes gains in the population's fitness as a national strategy, the health of people with disabilities has been considered an integral part of the plan. That has meant major improvements in facilities and guidance in para-sports for both recreation and rehabilitation of the 85 million people with disabilities in China.

According to the federation, the country has trained more than 42,100 fitness instructors for people with impairments and built 225 provincial and 32 national para-sports training centers.

"I will uphold the concepts of peace, equality and cooperation. ... I will endeavor to help Paralympic athletes in poverty and war to help realize their dreams," she said.

To boost the international Paralympic movement to a new level, Zhang also said the Paralympic and Olympic games should have equal status, more attention should be paid to athletes after they retire, and Paralympic management should be strengthened in terms of athlete classification and doping control through technology.

Hua Qingpang, a Paralympic sports researcher and a former consultant for the Beijing 2008 organizing committee, said Zhang's candidacy has implications for its role in the international Paralympic community.

sunxiaochen@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 09/07/2017 page3)

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