China’s ‘armless swimmer’ Tao Zheng has his sights set on glory once again this summer, as he looks to repeat his iconic performances at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Zheng burst into the public consciousness in spectacular fashion at London 2012, breaking the 100m backstroke S6 world record to claim gold, and going on to claim a three further medals in freestyle and backstroke events.
Photographs of his exuberant and memorable celebrations on realising that he had won the 100m backstroke S6 were published worldwide and increased his profile internationally.
In Brazil in September his main aim is to “obtain as many medals as possible.”
Since London 2012, the 25-year-old has maintained his form, most recently winning three gold medals at the Asian Para Games in Incheon, South Korea in 2014, and two golds and a silver at the 2015 IPC Swimming World Championships in Glasgow, Great Britain.
Like many athletes in these last few months before Rio 2016, he is “nervous but excited. I wish to show the best of myself in Rio... I am looking forward to it, the Paralympic Games is the dream event.”
Zheng’s training schedule is planned by the team coach based on the races that he is aiming to compete in. Currently, he spends about 30 hours per week doing various forms of training, six days out of seven.
Although his teammate, and rival, Qing Xu is facing potential retirement after Rio, Zheng has no such plans. This may be the last opportunity that they have to compete against one another. Despite the rivalry, Zheng has a lot of respect for Xu.
“[He] is my teammate, we spent a lot of time training and living together,” Zheng said. “He is a strong opponent, I am looking forward to competing against him.”
Zheng grew up near a lake, and was “fond of water” and swimming from a very young age. He cites his mother as being the most influential person in his career.
He hopes to inspire future generations of athletes and bring Para sport to a wider audience. “If only there is hope, don't give up, everything is possible. I hope the Paralympic Games and Paralympic athletes get more attention,” he concluded.
Sport fans from around the world can now buy their Paralympic tickets for Rio 2016 from authorised ticket resellers (ATRs)
The IPC’s Global ATR is Jet Set Sports, and Rio 2016 tickets and packages can be purchased on the CoSport website.
Residents of Brazil can buy 2016 Paralympics tickets directly from the Rio 2016 website.
Visa International is the exclusive payment card and the official payment system for the Paralympic Games.