In pursuit of Paralympic perfection

2021-03-29 12:06:51

Team China's para snowboarders are preparing for the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics on the mountains of Chongli district in Zhangjiakou-the co-host city for the Games. XINHUA With less than a year to go before the start of the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, China's athletes are leaving no stone unturned in their bid to win glory for the nation. Training at five bases in Beijing and Hebei province, 124 of Team China's para athletes are being put through their paces by 42 domestic and foreign coaches. The national para snowboarding squad, for example, is preparing for the Games in the Chongli district of Zhangjiakou-the co-host city of Beijing 2022. While most Chinese cities are now feeling the warmth of spring in the air, mountainous Chongli district is still covered by snow, enabling the athletes to benefit from a prolonged winter training stint. "The para snowboarding team now has 21 athletes training in Chongli. We are making very scientific preparations for the Paralympics, and our athletes are living a very regular work and rest schedule. Each day they will have a total training time of about four hours, and they are all in a good condition," Liu Song, a para snowboarding team coach, told China Times. Team China's winter para athletes are training at five bases in Beijing and Hebei province. WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY/XINHUA Training on the snow during the day is followed by strength and conditioning sessions in the gym at night. And at the end of every day, a technical team analyzes each athlete's physical and mental condition to identify anything that can be improved upon. The Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games will be held from March 4-13 next year. Athletes will compete in 78 events across six sports-para alpine skiing, para snowboarding, para ice hockey, wheelchair curling, para biathlon and para cross-country skiing. China first participated in the Winter Paralympics at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games in the United States. Only four Chinese Paralympians competed then, in para cross-country skiing and para alpine skiing. At the 2014 Games in Sochi, Team China totaled 10 athletes, competing in para cross-country skiing and wheelchair curling. China made a breakthrough at the next edition of the Games four years later in Pyeongchang, winning the country's first ever Paralympic gold medal in wheelchair curling. Thanks to the rapid development of para winter sports ahead of Beijing 2022, Team China will make another leap forward next year-participating in all six sports at the Games for the first time. The China Disabled Persons' Federation says the nation's pool of winter para athletes has grown from a humble total of 50 in recent years to currently number over a thousand. Team China's winter para athletes are training at five bases in Beijing and Hebei province. WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY/XINHUA The quality and quantity of their training has improved too, with 300 members of China's various national squads preparing for Beijing 2022 without interruption for over a year. In addition, China now boasts over a hundred Winter Paralympic technical officials. The development of para winter sports in China is also highlighted by the increasing number of domestic competitions. Since 2017, five sports, including para alpine skiing and para ice hockey, hosted national-level tournaments for the first time. More Chinese para athletes are also competing in international events, winning 38 golds worldwide since 2016. "We have entered a key period of time to prepare for the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics, so our athletes need to keep showing their fighting spirit, seize the opportunity and train hard now," said Zhang Haidi, president of the China Disabled Persons' Federation, during a visit to the national para ice hockey squad's base earlier this month. "It's not just about being the hero in competitions. Athletes should also encourage more disabled brothers and sisters to participate in sports and para winter sports. It benefits our health and helps us better integrate into society. "The staff here should show care and love to our para athletes. We need to provide them with comprehensive support in terms of equipment, medical assistance, facilities and nutrition."