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Para-athletes going for 2022 glory with better support

By Sun Xiaochen | | Updated: 2021-03-04 16:15
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Zhang Haidi, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), is interviewed via video link ahead of the opening of the fourth session of the 13th CPPCC National Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 4, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Boosted by better training facilities and all-around support, China's para-athletes are sparing no efforts in their preparation for the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Winter Games, said head of China's disabled people's federation.

With one year to go before the Winter Paralympics open in Beijing on March 4 next year, Zhang Haidi, president of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, encouraged the country's dedicated group of para-athletes to make the best out of the much-improved training conditions to realize their Olympic dreams while delivering breakthrough results at home in 2022.

"Thanks to the development of the program helping to improve the well-being of disabled people in our country, our athletes could now prepare for the 2022 Winter Paralympics with the support of world-class facilities," Zhang, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said on Thursday.

"Our para-athletes are preparing vigorously for Beijing 2022 and they are determined to showcase the spirit of always striving to be the best once again at home."

Despite a late start and poor training conditions in the beginning, China's national program supporting winter sports athletes with disabilities took a leap after Beijing won the rights to host the 2022 Games in 2015, which has witnessed a significant increase in the number of winter para-athletes from only 50 registered with the disabled persons' federation before the bid to now over 1,000, according to Zhang, who also serves as an executive president for the Beijing 2022 organizing committee.

China sent a team to the Winter Paralympics for the first time in 2002, when four para-athletes competed in cross-country and alpine skiing disciplines in Salt Lake City, United States.

With Beijing 2022 promising to deliver both Games in an excellent and extraordinary fashion, improved training facilities and stronger support in rehabilitation and logistics have yielded encouraging results, highlighted by the wheelchair curling team's gold medal at the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea and two world championship titles won by para-snowboarders in 2019 in Finland.

Since 2016, Chinese athletes have participated in 59 international events featuring Paralympic winter sports, claiming 38 gold medals.

Located in northeast Beijing's Shunyi district, the National Ice Sports Arena for People with Impairments, the country's first of its kind ice sports training venue for disabled people, began operation in December.

With preparation going on full steam, China aims to qualify its para-athletes in all 78 medal events across six sports - alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, para-ice hockey and wheelchair curling-at the 2022 Games, according to the sports department of the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

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