Powerhouse China look to cement their dominance at Tokyo 2020
Can China top the tables again, making it five in a row?23 Aug 2021
16 year old Jiang Yuyan is hoping to take off for China in swimming
Ⓒ Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
By Ruth Faulkner I For the IPC
Always a strong team, China brings 255 athletes to Tokyo, 136 female, 119 male, competing in 21 sports. They hope to continue their success after having finished top of the medal table at the past four editions of the Paralympic Games. Their rise has been swift as Chinese athletes did not compete until 1984.
FROM 16 YEARS OLD TO 56 YEARS OLD
China’s team brings strength at all ages. A key one to watch in Para swimming is Jiang Yuyan, nicknamed the 'flying fish', who in making her debut at 16 is the youngest of China’s team. With the support of the team around her she’s focused on doing her best and setting herself up for the future.
“Everyone on the Chinese team, all of my elder brothers and elder sisters, are all incredible. As someone from the new generation, I feel like I have to work as hard as I can, so that I can follow in their footsteps and take over their mantle,” she said.
Yuyan certainly has a strong team around her for inspiration, with Rio 2016 medallists Zhang Li, Cheng Jiao, Song Lingling, Li Guizhi, Feng Yazhu, Xu Jialing and Lu Dong all returning.
In table tennis China’s oldest athlete Zhao Ping, 56 years old, looks to follow on his gold medal win from Rio 2016. While Mao Jingdian, winner of women’s singles class 8 gold in London and Rio, aims for a third successive title.
HIGH HOPES FOR PARA BADMINTON
Ranked No. 1 in the world, badminton player Qu Zimo is a one to watch in this new Paralympic sport. The teenager had a sensational 2019, becoming world champion in the men’s singles WH 1 and men’s doubles WH 1-2. He finished the year with three golds in front of a home crowd at the China badminton International.
Ⓒ Alan Spink
Seventeen-year-old Liu Yutong also dreams of Paralympic gold in badminton. Despite her youth she’s also made a name for herself already in the badminton international scene, capturing double gold by winning both the singles and doubles events at the 2019 World Championships in Basel, Switzerland.
“Every athlete's dream is to win Paralympic gold, that is my goal; but I cannot take it for granted just because I have won world titles.”
Athletics has always been China’s most successful sport, with 377 medals through the years. For Tokyo, Rio 2016 double champion Zhou Xia defends her titles, while Liu Cuiqing competes in the T11 100m, 200m and 400m. Women’s T47 400m champion Li Lu, and T36 200m gold medallist Shi Yiting, defend their titles, and T37 long jumper Wen Xiaoyan will look to retain the title she took in Brazil. Li Yingli has moved from running events, after a gold relay win in Rio, to now compete in the shot put and discus.