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Chinese Paralympic rowers told to believe in miracle, but not to think about golds
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09:03, September 08, 2008

On a regatta course where the Chinese Olympic rowers have claimed the first ever gold just few weeks ago, their Paralympic peers hope to continue the winning momentum but were warned to adjust the mindset at first.

"I think Britain, Israel and Brazil have the chances of winning golds at the Paralympics. And It's already a miracle that the Chinese rowers to make it to all four events in the Beijing Paralympics. We started to groom the team only two years ago," China head coach Liu Xiaochun told Xinhua on Sunday, "so I often tell them when their is courage, there is miracle."

A total of 96 adaptive rowers have moved into the final assault for the Paralympic Games at north Beijing's Shunyi Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Park, eyeing the four gold medals on offer in the most recently introduced sport to the Paralympic family.

Six countries, including the United States, Israel, Britain, China, Canada and Brazil, have qualified to race in all four events.

"I don't push my rowers too much by giving them a specific goal to reach in these Games. That might be work in a reverse way as the adaptive rowers are a sensitive group," Liu said.

"We have never thought about making all four events, which is really hard for these adaptive rowers starting from scratch. It is all hard work."

Compared with the American or European veteran rowers who have ten to fifteen years of rowing experience, the Chinese athletes, coming from school, factory and even hairdressing salon, seemed to be in a different league and some of them didn't even take any interest in sports.

However, the Chinese rowing team, mounted in March 2006, has been making consistent progress which lifted them to clinch tickets to all four events at the Munich World Championships in 2007. To add more icing on the cake, the team, consisting of eight rowers, won the arms women's single (AW1x) and trunk, arms mixed double (TA2x) titles at the Asian Championships last year.

"The sport helps me find out my potential," said Zhang Jinhong, who won the women's singles in the Asian Championships after only months' training. "It is easy for me to win in Asia, but I don't think I can make it happen again in the Paralympics."

"The medal hopefuls are mainly coming from Europe, but I never rule myself out of the competition. Everybody gets a chance.

"The Games were like a dream. I never thought that I could take part in the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, but it is where I am now. I will give all out and let's see what will happen," added Zhang, who had been a worker in a factory in south China's Guangdong province.

Since taking over the team two years ago, Coach Liu has been working on building up the athletes' confidence and took any chance to praise and encourage them. She thinks it is the beginning to success.

"Unlike the able-bodied athletes, the athletes with disabilities are prone to have ups and downs mentally, so any result could be possible in the match. But first of all, they need to boost their confidence."

"When you get off the boat saying you give all your best, you can just walk away with no regret, no matter what result that could be."

Source: Xinhua

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