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Countdown to Beijing 2022: Chinese athletes gearing up for Winter Paralympics

N.C.N. Limited 徽标 N.C.N. Limited 2021/3/3 Zhang Rongfeng,Wu Bowen,Zheng Zhi,Shan Lei
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A staff member helps a disabled athlete during a testing program for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to root out problems and accumulate data at the National Alpine Skiing Center in Yanqing District, Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 23, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhang Chenlin)

Exactly one year until the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, Chinese athletes are well on track in their preparations for the event and aim to achieve more than ever before, encouraged by the country's first-ever gold medal at the Pyeongchang Paralympics.

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Exactly one year away from the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, Chinese athletes are well on track in their preparations for the event on home soil through consistent training.

China made a breakthrough at the PyeongChang Winter Paralympics, snatching its first gold medal in wheelchair curling, which is also the first-ever medal for the country at the Paralympic Games.

China will still count the sport as a favorite for a top-of-the-podium finish in Beijing.

"We are eager to raise the Chinese national flag at the Ice Cube next year at the Beijing Paralympic Games and it's a goal we're trying to achieve," said Hu Junfu, assistant manager of the Chinese wheelchair curling team.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused some struggles for Chinese athletes' Paralympics preparations, but regular training continues.

"When COVID-19 broke out, we formulated an effective program in virus prevention under the supervision of the China Disabled Persons' Federation. We provided various epidemic prevention materials including face masks and disinfectants," added Hu.

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Gold medalists, China's Wang Haitao, Chen Jianxin, Liu Wei, Wang Meng and Zhang Qiang (L to R) celebrate on the podium during the awarding ceremony for wheelchair curling at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Paralympic Games at Gangneung, South Korea, March 17, 2018. China beat Norway in the final 6-5 to claim the title of the event, which is also China's first-ever Winter Paralympic medal with gold. (Xinhua/Xia Yifang)

Thanks to the stringent anti-COVID-19 measures, training keeps pushing on for all 124 athletes in six Para sports - Para Alpine skiing, Para snowboarding, Para cross-country skiing, Para biathlon, Para ice hockey, and wheelchair curling, coached by 42 staff including seven foreigners.

"We have a slogan that says, 'everyone is part of the fight against COVID-19, everyone should be a model in the fight'," said Hu.

"It's really encouraging to earn China the first-ever medal in PyeongChang, but I have been reminding my athletes repeatedly that it's already in the past when they stepped down from the award podium. We have to start from the very beginning and we have to keep training hard."

Wang Jianbin, manager of the Chinese Para ice hockey team which was set up in 2016, has also set a target to finish on the podium for the team at the Beijing Paralympics.

"Though our team was built not long ago, I have confidence we will reach our goal of a top-six finish while striving for third place. We are able to meet the objective, supported by our concerted efforts and team spirit," said Wang.

Wang's confidence comes from sustained training and reliable support systems and networks.

"For now, the players are in good form thanks to our consistent training. We have a great coaching team and a strong logistics support team," said Wang.

"We have a vibrant squad full of spirit, energy, and bravery."

According to Yong Zhijun, Competition and Training Department director of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, China only participated in two Para sports prior to its bid for 2022 Winter Olympics.

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Liu Wei of Chinese national wheelchair curling team attends a training session ahead of the 2022 Beijing Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 24, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Chenlin)

The number of China's Para athletes has surged to 1,000, from less than 50 at the beginning and they are involved in all the six Para sports. Since 2016, China has collected 38 gold medals in 59 Paralympics series events.

As the Beijing Winter Paralympics helps raise the awareness of creating a convenient environment for people with disabilities, more barrier-free facilities have been installed.   

"There are 45 sports training centers for persons with disabilities in China. These sports facilities now are far better and advanced, and persons with disabilities have engaged more and more in the development of the whole society," said Zhang Haidi, president of the China Disabled Persons' Federation.

The barrier-free facilities have been extended from the venues to the host cities as the Beijing 2022 preparation moves on, which has enabled persons with disabilities to have access to winter sports.

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These is the new emblem version for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games and 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. The updated emblem for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games was released on Sept. 6, 2020 to match the new Paralympic symbol that was refreshed in October 2019. (Beijing 2022 organizing committee/Handout via Xinhua)

According to the organizers, there will be six sports and 78 disciplines rendering 78 gold medals in total at the Beijing Paralympic Games. These events will take place at five competition venues and 25 non-competition venues, covering three competition zones including downtown Beijing, Yanqing, and Zhangjiakou. 

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