Para cross-country skier Mao wins middle distance sitting to give China 16th gold at Beijing 2022

(Xinhua) 16:29, March 13, 2022

CHONGLI, Zhangjiakou, March 12 (Xinhua) -- China's Para cross-country skier Mao Zhongwu notched the men's middle distance sitting gold at the Beijing Winter Paralympics here on Saturday, bringing China its 16th gold at the ongoing Beijing Winter Paralympic Games.

It's also the third medal for 35-year-old Mao at the tournament after taking second place two times out of the sprint and long-distance sitting events.

"I raced with 100% effort today. So happy to win this gold medal. This medal is so precious to me; it means so much for my professional career," said Paralympics debutant Mao.

Mao believed his advantage lies in his strength and willpower in Saturday's race.

"The snow is melting due to the warm weather, which made strength an important winning factor. That's exactly where I got an edge," said Mao, who started Para cross-country skiing at the age of 32 in September 2018. The temperatures in Chongli reached as high as 13 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

"Every second of the race was a struggle for me. I made it by sheer force of will," Mao pointed out the meanings of the game. "I believe the spirit we showcased during the Games will not only inspire and empower Paralympic athletes but also everyone who's having a hard time in their lives."

His teammate Zheng Peng, who won both the sprint and long-distance sitting events as the first Chinese double gold medalist here, took the silver, while Giuseppe Romele of Italy pocketed the bronze.

Mao said the para-sport has brought about positive changes in many aspects of his life. He stayed at home all the time before engaging in sports. Later, he trained for wheelchair racing for about a year. Then he trained for cross-country skiing for almost four years.

"This is my sports career. When I was first injured, I needed two people to help me move and my head got dizzy often. Then, after several years of training, my body is in a very good state. Now I can ski 18 kilometers and compete with other athletes in international competitions," said Mao.

"It made a world of difference. Since being involved in sports, I have been feeling confident in both my physical mental conditions. I love life more," Mao expressed.

Zheng recognized his teammate Mao is better than him in physical strength and thanked Mao for his role in pushing himself forward.

"Physical power matters in this event. I'm relatively not good at that," said Zheng, who became the first Chinese Para skier to take silver at a World Cup event in Canada in 2017.

"I was happy for him. There has been a positive competition between us," Zhang described the comradery after the game. "Without him, I would never have had such good results. We compete against each other and help each other. On the courses, what matters is who is strongest that day."

(Web editor: Zhang Wenjie, Bianji)


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