The Chinese delegation have set no expectation for the first-ever Asian Para Games to open here in Guangzhou on Sunday night, but they are determined to show the spirit power and fortitudinous image of Chinese disabled athletes.
The Chinese delegation was made up of 614 members including 431 athletes and 183 officials, coaches and working staff, which is the biggest disabled athletes delegation that China has ever assembled for international multi-sport Games. The Chinese athletes will participate in all the 19 sports during the 7-day competition.
"Before we moved in the Athletes' Village after it opened on Wednesday, the athletes went through patriotism and etiquette training in 12 national training camps all around the nation. And the sport spirit of respecting the opponents, referees as well as the audience is our focus," said Zhao Sujing, vice chief-de-mission of the Chinese delegation during a press conference here on Saturday.
China successfully defended the top spot on the medal tally in Beijing Paralympic Games two years ago, winning 89 gold, 70 silver, and 52 bronze medals. Being the host country again, the regional sport power is definitely the heaviest favorite in the Guangzhou Para Games, but China has already set their goals beyond the medals.
"We want our athletes to show not only good performance in the competitions but also their image of unremitting self-improving and high-level sport moral,"said Zhao. "The Games will provide our athletes with a good opportunity to communicate and make friends with people from other parts of Asian. It will be a festival for all the disabled around the continent."
Zhao also emphasized the delegation's commitment on anti-doping. "We specially set anti-doping training sessions during the training camp period. In order to make sure every of our athletes can benefit from such sessions, anti-doping regulations were read out by our staff to those with reading impediment," Zhao added.
About 7,700 athletes and officials from 41 Asian member countries and regions are expected to participate in this multi-sport competition, making this the most comprehensive Asian event as a stepping stone for elite Asian athletes aiming for the London 2012 Paralympics.
Among all the 431 Chinese athletes, their are 259 men and 189 women, with the eldest athlete aging 49 and the youngest only 15. The average age of the Chinese athletes is 23.6 and nearly 70 percent of them are under 25 years old. Zhao believes that through competing in this Asian Para Games, young athletes can pile up their experience and get better prepared for the 2012 London Paralympic Games.
Asian has a long history of staging Paralympic events but it was the first time for such a para Games to run parallel to the Asian Games. The inaugural Asian Para Games will including 19 sports, namely archery, athletics, badminton, boccia, cycling, football (5-a-side), football 7-a-side, goalball, judo, powerlifting, rowing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, tenpin bowling, volleyball (Sitting), wheelchair basketball, wheelchair fencing and wheelchair tennis, among which badminton and tenpin bowling are non-Paralympic sports.
The opening ceremony will be staged on Dec. 12 and the Games will conclude on Dec. 19.