Indonesia 2018: Zhou leads Chinese women on track

Country hoping to dominate athletics again at Asian Para Games 30 Sep 2018
By World Para Athletics

China topped the medals table at the last Asian Para Games four years ago, and with 24 out of the country’s 29 individual gold medallists from the London 2017 World Championships set to compete in Indonesia this year, expectations will be high for yet another strong performance.

Wheelchair racer Hongzhuan Zhou has three titles to defend, having won 400m T53, 800m T53 and 1,500m T54 gold at Incheon 2014.

It’s hard to see anyone getting the better of the 29-year-old, who has six Paralympic and seven world golds to her name.

While China also dominates the women’s T11 sprints, what is less clear is who will come out on top.

Cuiqing Liu and Guohua Zhou rekindle their rivalry once again and as the current top two Asian Para athletes in the 100m and 200m T11 both will be expected to medal – the question is, who will win which colour?

Liu, 26, was disqualified after a false start in the heats of the 100m at last year’s World Championships, leaving Zhou to storm home to her second global gold, having already denied her teammate the defence of her 200m title.

Asian record holder and Paralympic champion Liu is the faster of the pair this year – she clocked 12.09 over 100m in the heats of the Beijing Grand Prix in May to go top in the world rankings.

But come the final, she was beaten by Zhou. It was a similar situation in the 200m – under pressure, Zhou looks the safer bet.

A force in the field

China’s top female stars are also out in force in the field events at the Games, which get underway on 6 October.

Reigning world champions Na Mi (discus F37/38 and shot put F35/36/37), Liwan Yang (discus F54/55, shot put F54), Juan Yao (discus F64, shot put F64) and Liangmin Zhang (discus F11, shot put F11/12) all take on multiple events in Indonesia; all have Asian Para Games titles to defend.

As for China’s male Para athletes, there’s no shortage of talent there either.

London 2017 gold medallist Yifei Yang is the fastest this year in the men’s 200m T36, but – as with China’s women – it’s in the field events where they really come in to their own.

While reigning long jump T38 world champion Jianwen Hu will not compete in Jakarta, a tense battle for gold could unfold between two other Chinese Para athletes.

Huanghao Zhong lost out on world gold by just one centimetre last year, leaping 6.79m. The current world number one, Dening Zhu, managed 6.78m in Beijing this season.

World discus F34 champion and world number one Yanzhang Wang takes on the shot put F34 and javelin F33/34 in Jakarta. He won the javelin and discus throws four years ago, but only managed fifth in the shot put, and will come up against tough competition from the world gold and silver medallists, Qatar’s Abdulqadir Abdulrahman and Iran’s Mohsen Kaedi.

Other names to look out for include discus F46 world champion Zhanbiao Hou – ranked number one in the world this year ahead of India’s Rohit Kumar; Hongjie Chen, the world number two in the men’s high jump T47 and javelin F41 world champion and best in the world this year, Pengxiang Sun.