With six chances, five attempts and four valid throws, shy Beijing boy Zhu Pengkai won Paralympic gold on Wednesday night in the Bird's Nest, breaking the men's javelin level F11-12 world record in the process.
Zhu Pengkai thanks his coach at the press conference after the victory ceremony. [China.org.cn]
''This is my first time at the Paralympics and I never expected to win a gold medal,'' Zhu said after the competition. ''When I arrived at the stadium, I was nervous, especially because it was in Beijing, in front of my home crowd,'' Zhu added.
Zhu's first throw was only 58.16 meters. He said that he threw too soon, when his feet were still two meters in front of the throwing line.
But he soon settled down. ''My third throw was 63.07 meters, a personal best. I felt the Gold was in my grasp after that,'' Zhu said.
At a press conference held after the victory ceremony, Zhu thanked his coach and the officials of the China Disabled Person's Federation. ''Without them, I would not be at the Paralympics. I want to especially thank my coach; he is like a father to me. He has been my coach since 2003, teaching me to throw and looking after me. Today is Teacher's Day, and I think the gold medal is the best gift he could wish for,'' Zhu said at the press conference.
Zhu started to practice javelin at elementary school, but only as an after-school activity. When he was 15 disaster struck when faulty medicine damaged his vision. He told the press that for a long time afterwards he could not come to terms with the unfairness of losing his sight and practiced throwing the javelin as an outlet for his anger. But it turned out that he threw very well and was eventually selected for the national team.
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Zhang Yunxing, September 11, 2008)