Chinese paddler Xie Maosan claimed the first gold medal of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games in East China’s Zhejiang Province as the Chinese delegation pulled off strong performances to dominate the medal table on the opening day.
Xie claimed the gold medal in the Women’s KL1 canoe final on Monday morning at the Fuyang Water Sports Center, which is also the first gold of the Hangzhou Para Games.
Xie, a tailor-turned-athlete, told the Global Times after the match that sports boosted her confidence and changed her life.
“As one of 85 million people with disabilities in China, I want to tell them to go out of their homes and explore the world. You can also fight for laurels for China like I did,” said Xie.
“I hope I can have the national flag raised again at the 2024 Paris Paralympic Games.”
After watching a dance performance delivered by people with disabilities at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Xie set her sights on showcasing her athleticism on a big stage, and canoeing offer her a perfect opportunity.
The 37-year-old has been adhering to a strict training schedule that involves spending six hours a day on the water despite suffering from severe back injuries.
“I felt like a new person when I was in a canoe. I feel like an able-bodied person when I paddle on the water because I can go anywhere I want to. I have a new life because of canoeing,” Xie said. “Life is about moving forward against the odds, surpassing yourself, and challenging yourself.”
At the Huanglong Sports Centre Stadium, Shi Yiting broke the world record in the women’s 200-meter T36 final to win gold. Her time was 28.17 seconds. Bronze was her fellow countryman Li Sishuang’s final place finish.
“I’m extremely happy with my performance because I gave it my all. My feet hurt so much that I wasn’t training as hard as I could have. But I finally outperformed myself in this domestic competition,” Shi remarked.
“I love you all; my dad, my coach, teammates, and staff who have always been helping me,” Shi said.
Men’s Long Jump-T11 gold and silver medals went to Di Dongdong and Ye Tao.
In the meantime, powerlifter Guo Lingling, competing in the women’s 41kg final, also set a new world record, lifting 123 kg.
China led the medal standings as of Monday, holding 31 gold, 29 silver, and 23 bronze. Iran and Uzbekistan came in second and third, respectively.
China excels in a number of sports, including wheelchair fencing, badminton, swimming, table tennis, weightlifting, cycling, and archery.
In Guangzhou in 2010, Incheon, South Korea in 2014, and Jakarta, Indonesia in 2018, the Chinese delegation won the most gold medals in the Para Games three times.