Paralympic Winter Games
04 - 13 March

Home favourites China going big in Beijing

96 athletes, 73 events, six sports – the hosts are hoping for medal rewards 03 Mar 2022
Chinese standing skier comes down the mountain
Zhang Mengqiu is one of China's top Para Alpine skiers competing in Beijing
ⒸLuc Percival
By AMP Media I For The IPC

Two decades ago just four athletes represented China at the Paralympic Winter Games. How times have changed since Salt Lake City 2002.

The hosts have named a team of 96 competitors for Beijing 2022 – plus 121 coaches and support staff – and are genuine podium contenders. 

Up to now, their total medal haul across all Winter Games is one gold – courtesy of the Wheelchair Curling team in PyeongChang four years ago.

But this time, the home athletes, many of whom only started winter sports very recently, are targeting 73 different events across all six sports.

“We hope the athletes will overcome all challenges and be united as a team. With great fighting spirit, I also hope they will enjoy the Paralympic Winter Games and have good results,” said Zhang Haidi, Chef de Mission and chair of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation at the team announcement.

The China team is young, with an average age of just 25, the oldest being 45-year-old Para Alpine skier Zhang Haiyuan and the youngest Geng Yanhong, the 17-year-old Para snowboarder.

Rink Master

History was made with that extra-end Wheelchair Curling win over Norway at PyeongChang 2018 and a star was born. Haitao Wang leads the team in Beijing.

“There were so many interviews I felt like a celebrity,” Wang said afterwards of the reaction to the gold medal.

“I felt my dream realised, I honoured my country and had the national anthem played at Paralympic Games.” 

There is a rising star too, in the shape of Zhuo Yan, who makes her Games debut at the age of 29 and loves the strategy of the sport.

“Curling is like chess on ice,” Yan explains. “It requires you to predict the next three, four, or even more steps ahead as well as the corresponding countermeasures.”

Haitao Wang Ⓒ Getty Images

Italian Job

There has been a Para Alpine Skiing revolution in China thanks to the influence of coach Dario Capelli, who was given a four-year target of turning rookies into gold-medal contenders when he arrived in 2018.

It has been non-stop ever since. Standing skier Zhang Mengqiu won China’s first gold medal at the World Cup in 2020, beating eight-time Paralympic champion Marie Bochet in the giant slalom while sitting skier Zhang Wenjing has also been enjoying success.

Sit skier Liu Sitong surprised everyone when she finished sixth in the slalom at PyeongChang and is expected to be a medal contender this time.

“What attracts me most about this sport is the feeling of freedom in the mountains and the ability to master the speed in the snow,” she said. “It is both exciting and elegant.”

Flying solo

Spare a thought for 28-year-old Jing Yu, the only woman in the 18-strong Para Ice Hockey squad.

She is only the third female Para Ice Hockey player to take part in the Paralympic Winter Games – after Norway's Brit Mjaasund Oeyen at Lillehammer 1994 and Lena Schroeder at PyeongChang 2018.

China make their Paralympic debut in the sport and will be looking to the likes of Yi Feng Shen, who has been named best forward at the World Championships B-Pool.

China face Czech Republic, Italy and Slovakia in the group stages.

Ⓒ Karl Nilsson/Parasport Sverige


Chenyang Wang is so determined to win a medal that he turned down the chance to go home for the New Year celebrations.

The 20-year-old standing Nordic skier competed at PyeongChang 2018, his best finish an 11th place in 20km cross-country.

"I’m much more ready this time. I want to win a medal and bring glory to my country,” he recently told the Chinese media.

Sun Shines

Snowboarders Sun Qi and Pang Qiaorong grabbed the headlines in 2019 when they became world champions in the men’s and women’s banked slalom respectively. 

Sun, who had his lower right leg amputated after a firework explosion in childhood, competed at PyeongChang and wants to put the record straight after a broken prosthesis ruined his chances of challenging for a medal.