Four years after collecting five medals including two golds at the Athens Paralympic Games, Chinese Judokas are confident of repeating the feat in the 2008 Paralympic Games on home soil.
"We have not set any specific goal, but I am confident we can get one gold medal at least," said Zhang Guosheng, team leader of Chinese judo team to the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. "We will try to perform to our best standard."
With the retirement of Athens Paralympics titlists Wang Yunfeng and Xue Lanmei, former world champion Yuan Yanping spearheaded the Chinese gold medal hopefuls in Beijing.
"Yuan is a very talented player," Zhang told Xinhua. "She first took part in the sport in 2005 and one year later crowned at the World Championships."
The 32-year-old Yuan, a graduate from the Beijing International Studies University, is also the English teacher for her teammates and coaches.
"We have two academic study sessions every week and she teaches us to speak English, she is a really good teacher," Zhang said.
All the eight members from the Chinese team are amateur athletes while they have gathered from last May for the training camp of the Beijing Paralympics.
"It's the first time that our team has had regular training for such a long time, all the players sacrificed a lot in order to take part in the Paralympic Games," Zhang said.
For example, Wang Song, a B1 player who will compete in the men' s +100 kg category, left his bread-earning massage shop to his wife to devote himself to the preparation of his first Paralympic Games.
"His message shop is in Beijing and he has to pay 6,000 RMB rent per month, it's really difficult for his wife, who can't see either, to run it on her own," Zhang said. "But he had no hesitation, because it's his dream to take part in the Paralympics on home soil. "
Xu Zhilin, Athens bronze medallist in the men's 66kg, and Guo Huaping will play in their second consecutive Paralympic Games while Yuan Yanping, Li Xiaodong, Wang Song, Cui Na, Wang Lijing and Zhou Qian are all to make their debut.
(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2008)