China have proved yet again to be the dominating force at the Paralympics by steamrolling to a total of 107 gold medals.
Despite a surprise third place position in the Rio Olympics for China after Great Britain earned one more gold medal than them, the Paralympic Games were their opportunity to shine. They put a sizable gap of 43 gold medals between themselves and second place Team GB, and also became the third country to win more than 100 golds at a single edition of Paralympics.
China finished first with a total of 239 medals, including 81 silver medals and 51 bronze in addition to the 43 gold medals. It topped the medal table for the fourth time in a row and has improved its medal haul each year since 2004.
The Chinese team looked likely to storm the various events after picking up more than 115 medals in the first five days. Some of China’s best performances include Zhangyu Li who claimed two golds in Men’s Cycling and Zhou Lihong who won the Women’s Wheelchair Marathon.
It was a Paralympics jam-packed with-record breaking performances. The one hundredth world record to be broken over the course of this years’ competition happened at the Olympic Aquatic Center when Chinese swimmer Liu Benying set the new S2 50 meter men’s freestyle record at 54.05 seconds. He also set a new world record in the S2 200 meter freestyle final, winning gold with a time of three minutes and 41 seconds.
China’s winning tactic was essentially 'more athletes equals more medals.' They entered over 300 athletes, demonstrating their commitment to remaining a Paralympic powerhouse.
The country wasn’t always number one and in the All-Time Paralympic medal table, they only rank seventh in terms of total medals won. The U.S. finished first in medals for nine consecutive Paralympics from 1964 to 1996. China, meanwhile, did not begin sending athletes to the Paralympics until the 1984 Games.
But China also came under criticism for providing minimal coverage of the Paralympics when compared to the Olympics. The BBC noted that despite Chinese News broadcasters celebrating a few medal winners, reports of other Paralympians were few and far between:
“Yanping Yuan, for example, won her third Paralympic gold in Rio but is barely getting a mention [and] Four-time gold medalist Hongzhuan Zhou, 27, also receives relatively little media attention despite setting a new world record in Rio in the 400m T53 wheelchair race.”
[Images via People's Daily, Cycletimes.net, Xinhua]