China claimed seven gold medals to top the standings after the first day of competition at the Rio Paralympics on Thursday.
Four of the victories came in swimming with others in shooting, judo and athletics. China also secured nine silver and four bronze medals to end the day with 20 podium finishes.
Two of China’s swimming gold medals were secured with world record performances: Zheng Tao in the Men’s 100m Backstroke S6 and Song Lingling in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S6.
Zheng clocked 1 minute 10.84 seconds to eclipse the previous record set earlier in the day by his compatriot Jia Hongguang by 1.43 seconds. Jia took silver in 1:13.42 and Ukraine’s Iaroslav Semenenko clinched bronze in 1:15.41.
Song finished in 1 minute 21.43 seconds, beating her own world record of 1:24.66. China’s Lu Dong took silver, 22 hundredths of a second behind her compatriot, with the Ukraine’s Oksana Khrul claiming bronze in 1:26.82.
Other swimming gold medals for China were won by Zhang Li in the Women’s 200m Freestyle S5 and Ke Liting won gold in the Women’s 100m Backstroke S7.
Zhang clocked 2 minutes 48.33 seconds, 2.58 seconds ahead of Spain’s Teresa Perales, with Norway’s Sarah Louise Rung taking bronze in 2:51.37.
Ke touched the wall in 1:23.06 to beat compatriot Zhang Ying by just 28 hundredths of a second. New Zealand’s Rebecca Dubber clinched bronze in 1:23.85.
In athletics, world record holder Huang Lisha won her third Women’s 100m T53 title, beating fellow Chinese athlete Zhou Hongzhuan in the final. Huang crossed the line in 16.28 seconds, 23 hundredths of a second faster than Zhou. Australia’s Angela Ballard claimed bronze in 16.59. It was Huang’s sixth Paralympic Games gold medal.
“I feel proud and really happy to have this gold and achieve this glory for my country,” said the 27-year-old, whose impairment was a result of polio. “Our country really supports us and I’ll see what happens in the future. If I continue training I might still improve and get a new record.”
China’s Li Liqing won the Women’s Judo 48kg title by defeating Germany’s defending champion Carmen Brussig by ippon. Li, 23, shed tears of joy after securing her first Paralympic Games gold medal.
“It means so much to me,” said Li, who has visual impairment. “I have been with my coach Zhang Guifu for seven years. He is like a father to me. That is why it was so emotional. He taught me everything. I owe this gold medal to him.”
And in shooting, China’s Dong Chao successfully defended his Paralympic 10m Air Rifle Standing SH1 title by holding off Abdullah Sultan Alaryani of the United Arab Emirates. Dong secured the gold medal with 205.8 points, beating Alaryani by just 3.2 points. The Republic of Korea’s Kim Suwan took bronze with 181.7 points.
On opening day, Britain was the next most successful team with five gold medals, followed by Uzbekistan with three.
Story by Xinhua