"I watch other snowboarders competing but to learn from them and get better. They are all very talented and sharing races with them will make me a better athlete.”
Sun Qi knows that winning a medal at his first Winter Paralympics in PyeongChang seems almost impossible. The Chinese snowboarder ended 13th in the overall World Cup rankings, one better than at the previous season´s World Cup.
It was a good position considering he took up the sport in 2016 although still far from the top places. However, the 18-year-old knows PyeongChang 2018 will give him a big opportunity to gain necessary experience ahead of his home Winter Paralympics in Beijing in 2022.
“I do not see myself winning gold at this year's Paralympic Winter Games, but I am hoping to finish among the top 10 snowboarders in my class,” said Qi, who competes in the men´s SB-LL2.
Finland's world champion Matti Suur-Hamari, Japan's 2017-18 World Cup champion Gurimu Narita and USA's Mike Shea and Evan Strong are the leading contenders for gold in PyeongChang. But that is not something Qi pays special attention to.
“I focus on myself and on improving my skills,” said Qi, who has a limb deficiency because of a firecracker accident. “Yes, I watch other snowboarders competing but to learn from them and get better. They are all very talented and sharing races with them will make me a better athlete.”
China finished first in the medals table at the last four Summer Paralympics. Surprisingly, they have never claim a medal at a Winter Paralympics despite their tradition in Para sports.
But China are hoping PyeongChang 2018 can act as catalyst for further success looking into their home Winter Games in Beijing, in four years.
Qi knows this will be a unique opportunity for the country to develop winter Para sports and to show Chinese people what they are capable of.
“Taking part in Beijing 2022 and winning a medal would be a dream come true for me. I would love to compete in front of my people,” he said.
Tickets for PyeongChang 2018 can be purchased here.