Li Liqing reflects on Rio 2016 gold medal

China’s judoka won her maiden Paralympic title last September following a win over Germany’s defending champion Carmen Brussig. 02 Nov 2016
Judokas, Carmen Brussig and Li Liqing competing for the gold medal in Rio de Janeiro.

Carmen Brussig GER (white) and Li Liqing CHN battle during the Women -48 kg Gold Medal bout at the Carioca Arena 3. Li Liqing CHN won the Gold Medal at these Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

ⒸThomas Lovelock for OIS/IOC
By Corey Dempsey

Li Liqing’s first Paralympic experience at Rio 2016 could not have ended up better for her as she sealed the judo gold medal in the women’s up to 48kg after defeating Germany’s defending champion Carmen Brussig in the final.

China’s 23-year-old had already proven to be a major threat for Brussig at the IBSA Judo World Championships in Colorado Springs, USA, two years ago, when she beat the German for the first time to take the title.

“Winning gold in Rio made me feel fulfilled and happy because it meant that all my efforts during the last six years had paid off,” she said.

“The final against Brussig was exhausting. I thought I could win and was confident, but the result was very close. I was surprised by that.”

The first person Li thought of sharing this medal with was her coach Guifi Zhang, who she has been working with for seven years.

“He is like a father to me and is very strict so that I can improve every movement,” she said.

“Zhang has helped me reach my best form. We have practised all the movements hundreds or even thousands of times to improve as much as possible.

“I want to thank him for his teachings, which have helped me fulfil my dream.”

Li had to recover from a knee injury during her preparations for this year’s Paralympic Games, and even needed to adjust her original training plan with her coach to make sure she could arrive in Rio in her best possible shape.

“Once back on the tatami, I noticed I was powerless so I needed to have a special plan,” she explained.

Li’s interests go beyond judo and, for next year, she is planning to focus on her university studies.

“I want to learn computer science without giving up on judo. I will try to balance both activities making a bigger effort in both fields,” she said.

“Everyone has a dream. To fulfil it, you must struggle with some difficulties. But if you believe in yourself and you make the necessary corrections, you can surely achieve what you want.”