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Dream debut inspires Zhu to help next gen

China Daily | Updated: 2021-09-03 09:19
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China's Zhu Dening poses for the cameras after winning the men's long jump T38 final with a world-record leap at the Tokyo Paralympics on Wednesday. [Photo/AFP]

TOKYO-After enjoying a sensational Paralympic debut on the track at Tokyo 2020, Zhu Dening immediately set his sights on helping others realize their own sporting dreams.

The student athlete, who is majoring in physical education at Jimei University in Xiamen, won long jump T38 gold with a world-record leap, as well as taking silver in the 100-meter T38.

"I want to become a teacher after graduation. I want to share my experiences as a Paralympian with more people and pass on the values of sportsmanship," said the native of Fujian province.

Born in 1999, Zhu has suffered from mild ataxia since childhood and moved to the coastal city of Xiamen with his parents at a young age.

In 2015, with the support of the Xiamen Disabled Persons' Federation, he began to train in athletics with coach Yang Xiaoping.

Since making his debut for China in 2018, Zhu has won numerous championships. At the 2018 Asian Games, he collected three gold medals-in the 100m T38, 200m T38, and long jump T37/38.

A year later at the world championships in Dubai, Zhu pocketed two gold medals in the 100m T38 and long jump.

The 22-year-old, who ranks first in the world in the men's 100m and long jump, came to the Tokyo Paralympics with the ambition of winning two golds.

"He's in good shape," said coach Yang after their arrival in Tokyo. "We are expecting him to win gold or silver."

On Aug 28, Zhu claimed a silver medal in the 100m T38 after advancing to the final as the fastest qualifier. Despite not winning gold, his time of 11.00 seconds equaled his personal best.

Three days later, Zhu dominated the long jump T38 with a leap of 7.31 meters to break a world record set by compatriot Hu Jianwen in 2015.

"I am very excited to win a gold because this is a very big platform to stand on," Zhu said.

"I was thinking of my country as I stood on the podium. Without China's backing, I wouldn't have been standing there at all. I also want to thank my family and coach Yang for all the support and inspiration throughout the years."

Milestone gold

Swimmer Zheng Tao won China's 500th gold medal since 1984 at the Summer Paralympics on Wednesday after a narrow victory in the men's 50m freestyle S5 in Tokyo.

He touched first in a new Paralympic record of 30.31 seconds, ahead of teammate Yuan Weiyi and Wang Lichao, as China swept the medals in the event.

"I went all out with no regrets as this is my last race at Tokyo 2020. I think this was one of my best races ever," the 30-year-old said.

The 21-year-old Yuan, who clocked 31.11 to pocket silver, said: "I have won the gold, silver and also bronze in my first Paralympics here, which is already beyond my expectation.

"But my goal here was to have the best results of my career. I was a little bit nervous and didn't achieve everything I wanted to, but I am still very pleased."

Xinhua

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