Zheng excited by his Asian Para Games rivalry with teammate Qing

Double world champion looking to add to his medal collection in Incheon. 15 Oct 2014
Swimmer in the water breathing between two freestyle strokes

Tao Zheng of China competes in the Men's 50m Freestyle - S6 heat 3 on day 6 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games

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By Ryan Hills | for the IPC

“There are over 20 elite swimmers in our camp, and we all have our own talents. That does mean the atmosphere can be tense with us all training.”

With just days to go before the start of the Incheon 2014 Asian Para-Games in South Korea, Chinese para-swimmer Tao Zheng is looking forward to locking horns with his teammate Xu Qing.

Para-swimmers from 24 Asian nations will be competing in Incheon between 18-24 October and Chinese athletes are expected to lead the way, especially after topping the medals table in swimming events at London 2012.

After making his international debut at the 2010 Asian Para-Games in Guangzhou, China, Zheng has become a formidable athlete, winning multiple titles. He puts his success down to the amount of training he undertakes.

“To become the best, you have to give up something, and I don’t have much personal life because of that” the 24-year-old admitted. “If I’m not training, I’m with my family.”

For Zheng, who lost both of his arms aged just 10, the 14 years since has seen him win one Paralympic title at London 2012 and two golds and one silver medal at last year’s IPC Swimming World Championships in Montreal, Canada.

It is fair to say that had it not been for teammate Qing, his medal collection would be even greater in the S6 class. At London 2012, Qing beat Zheng to the wall twice in finals, setting new world records in the process.

“He [Qing] has been my rival for a very long time now, but we are very good friends and we both train together.

“There are over 20 elite swimmers in our camp, and we all have our own talents. That does mean the atmosphere can be tense with us all training.”

Even though the Asian Para-Games start on Saturday (18 October), Zheng is already looking ahead to future competitions against the worlds’ best and is confident China can remain a para-swimming superpower.

“Obviously there is the World Championships ahead next year, as well as national Championships, so I will need to be at my best physical condition for those.

“Rio is the next big challenge for me. I have high expectations for the Games, and I want to improve my skills in the next two years which will aid me.

“I’m not sure about other sports, but I think in Asia para-swimming is developing very quickly. We have a very competitive team, as do Japan, we are both very strong.

“I can feel that through the Games, ordinary people will be able to see the athletes’ ability to improve and in particular their spirit, while they hopefully enjoy watching the sport.”

The Asian Para Games will see athletes from 41 countries compete in 23 sports.

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