Yuan Yanping is the reigning Paralympic judo champion in the over 70kg class and has won gold at the last three Paralympic Games.
Ahead of this year’s World Championships, she shares how she got into judo, why people should take an interest and how she keeps motivated.
“I had lost most of my vision. But one day I heard that there was judo training available for visually impaired people. I thought to myself, can I get involved? I wanted to do something for myself and other disabled people like me. I contacted the organisation, explained my situation and two weeks later, I had started training.”
Three Paralympic golds and a World Championship gold later, it was a decision that paid off. She is now looking forward to the World Championships at the end of this year.
“I’m already training, focusing on the level I need to achieve, not the final result. I will try my hardest to overcome difficulties such as old injuries and jetlag to achieve the best result possible.”
Having been so successful in her career, it could be easy for Yanping to lose her motivation. But this is not the case.
“After each competition, I always remind myself that what I have achieved in the past has gone. My next target is always the future competitions waiting for me. In order to achieve the best results, I need to start the hard training all over again as if it is the first time ever.”
As well as the World Championships, Yanping hopes to compete at the next Paralympic Games in Tokyo 2020. Judo is the only martial art in the Paralympics and Yanping shares why people should watch.
“It's not just a sport just for physical confrontation – it also requires overall coordination of mind and body, flexibility, swift reactions, strategy and strength, will power and perseverance. As more people realise this, there will be more people than ever looking to take part.”
She finishes by explaining what she might do after her career finishes.
“I would like to get involved more in organising events and activities for disabled people. I hope I can help and encourage more disabled people to participate in social activities.”
The IBSA Judo World Championships will take place in Odivelas, Portugal, from 16-18 November 2018.