Inspiring performances at recent para-sports events are promoting sports participation among disabled people.
The world tuned in to watch top athletes challenge human limits at the IAAF World Championships this month in the United Kingdom. But in July, at the same London stadium, disabled athletes from China surpassed the accomplishments of their able-bodied counterparts by winning 30 gold medals, the most of any delegation, at the World Para Athletics Championships.
It was another outing for China’s para-athletes, following the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, where the team won 237 medals, including 105 golds, to dominate the Summer Paralympics awards for the fourth consecutive time since Athens in 2004.
The strong international performances of Chinese para-athletes have underlined the government’s support. It has provided facilities and training to promote participation among the disabled to improve their lives.
Zhang Haidi, president of the National Paralympic Committee, hailed the role of sports in promoting the welfare of the disabled.
“Sports participation has a decisive significance for people with disabilities, allowing them to live better lives. We will work to give them more support to help them sit, stand and run again,” Zhang, also the chairwoman of China Disabled Persons’ Federation, told Xinhua News Agency on Friday.
Zhang was nominated in June as a candidate for president of the International Paralympic Committee. Others are Canada’s Patrick Jarvis, Brazil’s Andrew Parsons and Denmark’s John Petersson. The result will be announced at the IPC General Assembly in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Sept 8.
After the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, highlighted mass fitness as a key component in the national strategy, while emphasizing that improving the health of disabled people is an integral part of the plan.
Since the congress in 2012, the improvement in facilities, guidance and accessibility to sports, both for recreation and rehabilitation, have steadily progressed, said Hua Qingpang, a paralympic sports promoter and former official of the national paralympic committee.
According to the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, the country has trained more than 42,100 fitness instructors for disabled people and built 225 provincial and 34 national para-sports training centers as of 2015. The number of registered para-athletes has reached 10,000, with about 3.35 million of the country’s 85 million disabled people participating in sports at least once in the past five years.