China swell medals tally in Cross-CountryHongqiong Yang completes hat-trick 12 Mar 2022
Hosts China raised their game a couple of notches higher on the penultimate day of the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games to clinch three golds in the Cross-Country event at the Zhangjiakou National Biathlon Centre.
Despite two relay events slotted on the final day of the Games on Sunday, 13 March, China has already sealed the top spot in Para Cross Country with 17 medals - seven gold, five silver and five bronze. They are followed by Canada (5-1-3-9) and Ukraine (2-1-3-6).
Chenyang Wang dashed Frenchman Benjamin Daviet’s dreams of a third gold in Nordic Skiing by clocking a time of 36:48.7 in the Men's Middle Distance Free Technique Standing event. Daviet finished 1.4 seconds behind while Wang’s compatriot Jiayun Cai with another 10.7 seconds behind stood third.
“I’m super happy and excited. I raced 120 per cent today. I am very, very happy for myself. It’s my willpower that got me this medal.
“My coach was telling me the gap between me and Daviet at every timing point. I was calculating in my mind to see where I can get those seconds back,” said a jubilant Wang, adding that he had been chasing this dream for six years.
“I was one of the first group of people to join the national team in the winter of 2015, right after Beijing won the bid for the 2022 Winter Games.
“I’ve experienced the bitterness or joy one could have ever imagined, but overall the memories were sweet. Because I am a positive and optimistic person. No matter what life throws my way, I’m quick to digest and transmit that,” added Wang.
MAO, ZHENG FINISH ONE AND TWO
The second gold for the hosts came in the Men's Middle Distance Sitting. Zhongwu Mao and Peng Zheng finished one and two with a time of 33:55.7 and 35:02.8, respectively. The bronze went to Giuseppe Romele of Italy.
“I raced 100 per cent today. So happy to win this gold medal. This medal is so precious for me. Means so much for my professional career.
“Last individual event today. I thought that I've got to go for it and do it full-on. Every second of the race was a struggle for me. I made it by sheer force of will,” said a delighted Mao.
HAT-TRICK OF GOLD FOR HONGQIONG YANG
Hongqiong Yang later competed the tally for China and also her hat-trick of golds with victory in the Women's Middle Distance Sitting. On second place was Oksana Masters of the US while Jing Ma ended up with bronze. This was Masters’ third silver in Cross-Country.
“I wasn't expecting to win anything but just to give it my all. Today, I wanted to push the limits of my body,” said Yang, who also urged people with disabilities to stay positive.
“Don’t give up. We encounter way more difficulties than able-bodied people. After rain comes the sunshine.”
LINN KAZMAEIR CLINCHES FIRST GOLD
Germany’s young sensation Linn Kazmaeir managed to clinch her maiden gold with an impressive performance in the Women's Middle Distance Free Technique Vision Impaired.
The 15-year-old had earlier won a silver and bronze in Women's Long Distance Classical Technique Vision Impaired and Women's Sprint Free Technique Vision Impaired respectively.
“I can't believe it. I'm very tired. It was a hard race, hard conditions, but I'm so happy and just can't believe it that it's a gold medal.
"I thought it would be cool to win gold, but was not really thinking about it. I thought I'd make my best race and (see) what I could do, and I'm so happy that it's a gold medal. It's really a dream. It's unbelievable,” said an overjoyed Kazmaeir.
OLEKSANDRA KONONOVA BAGS GOLD
Ukraine’s Oleksandra Kononova also clinched her first gold in Cross Country with victory in the Women's Middle Distance Free Technique Standing.
Wilkie Natalie of Canada split Kononova and her compatriot Iryna Bui for silver.
"I feel super happy, and I dedicate this medal to my country. I felt really proud of myself, about my country who raised me and gave me everything to perform here at such a high level. I thought about my family.
“This medal can't be compared to my previous Paralympic medals because it took me eight years to get this medal finally,” said a visibly pleased Kononova.