"I would try to enjoy the sport and love it; from then it’s natural to improve"
Zhou Jiamin’s Paralympic success in archery at Rio 2016 started a new life for her, as she has been balancing training with making a difference in her community.
“That was my first Paralympic Games,” Zhou said. “I now have a brand new understanding of what accessible means. With my experience at Rio 2016, I will think of better ideas [to better my community].”
The Chinese archer broke the world record for a 15 arrow match at Rio 2016, on her way to the gold in the gold medal in the women’s compound open and the compound mixed team open competition.
Her achievement opened a new door for her outside of athletics.
Zhou was recently elected as the representative of the People’s Congress in her home city of Zhejiang, where she has spent time with people with impairments. She hopes to draft motions about creating a barrier-free environment. Zhou has also spent time speaking at schools and emphasising the importance of accepting those with impairments.
For Zhou, her first Paralympic Games experience was eye-opening not only because of the competitions but also by living in the Paralympic Village, where she witnessed thousands of athletes with impairments living in one community.
She hopes one day China, or at least her home city, will be similar to the Paralympic Village.
“If the outside world is as accessible as the Paralympic Village, there are no people with disabilities because they will not be stopped by the inconvenient environment,” Zhou said. “In China, regulation for the newly constructed building with accessibility is enforced, but it still needs a long time to make the world fully accessible.”
Zhou hopes to qualify for the World Championships held 12-17 September in Beijing, China. She is focusing not only on her skills, but attitude in competitions.
“In China we have a saying, ‘too much is less,’” Zhou said. “Too eager to win is not a good sign. I would try to enjoy the sport and love it; from then it’s natural to improve.”