With Typhoon Malakas impending overhead, China’s victories at the 2016 Paralympic Games perhaps symbolize a more positive wave hitting the country, though it doesn’t seem to be getting as much publicity.
Following a disappointing performance at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, China has absolutely obliterated the competition at the subsequent 2016 Paralympic Games, winning 107 golds and taking some sweet revenge against Great Britain, which somehow managed to earn one more gold medal than China in the Rio Olympics. This time, Great Britain won 43 less gold medals than China, but that was still good enough for another second place. Ukraine finished third with 41 golds, while the United States just missed the top three with 40 golds.
China’s domination comes as no surprise. According to USA Today, the Paralympics powerhouse has won the past three summer Paralympics. A British para-swimming performance director told Vice News that this is due to sheer numbers, along with life-changing bonuses that China allegedly gives out to winners. Nevertheless, this is China’s most successful year in the Paralympic Games, breaking its personal record of 95 gold medals at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, and making it past that all-important century mark.
China is only the 3rd country to win more than 100 golds at a single edition of Paralympics, leading on 105 golds pic.twitter.com/1izDyaTqCp
— Xinhua Sports (@XHSports) September 18, 2016
China’s highlights in the games include the entire wheelchair fencing event, in which Chinese athletes won 17 medals, including nine golds. China’s youngest athlete at the Rio Paralympics, 14-year-old Xu Jialing, won the 100m Butterfly S9 division. In the R6 (mixed 50m rifle prone SH1) event, China’s Zhang Cuiping beat out the UAE’s Abdulla Sultan Alaryani for the gold. In a dramatic finish, Zhang shot a near-perfect score to clinch another gold medal for China.
— IPC Shooting (@IPCShooting) September 15, 2016
Some critics feel that Chinese media failed to give the athletes the attention they deserved for their outstanding performance. The Global Times recently criticized Chinese media’s spotty coverage of the games, claiming that the difference in coverage between the Paralympic Games and the Olympic Games highlights “the inadequate awareness and care that the disabled receive in China.” The piece ultimately urges that the media, in addition to attracting viewers, must also “take the time to draw attention to the plights and achievements of the disabled, so the public can better give the care and respect they deserve.” China is notorious for its inconsistent and abysmal care of the disabled.
The BBC also pointed out the lack of coverage, noting that some of China’s Paralympic athletes, such as gold medal-winners Hongzhuan Zhou and Yanping Yuan, have not received much mention in the media.
On Weibo, some users also stated that the athletes deserve more coverage than they had received. Others lamented the sparse broadcast of the games in China. “We owe them a lead story,” commented one user on a CCTV Paralympics post. Multiple users congratulated the athletes for their brilliance and spirit.
Speaking of spirit, it’s hard to top Chinese swimmer Zheng Tao in the 2012 London Paralympics:
By Abby Ordillas