Groups of athletes enter Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Zhejiang province on Saturday during the closing ceremony of the 4th Asian Para Games. (Photo by GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY)
Thrilling action, excellent arrangements and touching stories of athletes made the just concluded 4th Asian Para Games in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, a "superb" edition in the history of the Games, officials said, adding that its lasting legacy will benefit the host city and growth of Chinese para sports.
"I want to thank everyone for making the Games so superb. Athletes, volunteers, the local organizers and the media, thank you very much. Hangzhou is raising the bar for every single major event organizer in the world," said Tarek Souei, CEO of the Asian Paralympic Committee, at a media conference ahead of the Games' closing ceremony on Saturday.
Souei said he was not only amazed by the high standards on display at the event, he was also impressed by the improvement in the overall living conditions of people with disabilities with the help of para sports in China.
"I still remember the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Paralympics. And 15 years later in Hangzhou, I saw the torchbearer using a high-tech prosthetic arm to hold the flame and light the cauldron," he said.
There has been a lot of transformation in the lives of people with disabilities in China. Such people in China and in the rest of Asia are living better lives thanks to para sports, which spreads a strong message of inclusiveness, equality and opportunity for persons with disabilities, he added.
The Hangzhou Asian Para Games attracted over 3,000 athletes from 44 countries and regions, who competed in 501 events across 22 sports. More than 1,550 technical officials and 3,090 media personnel were involved, making it the largest edition in the history of the Asian Para Games.
A total of 21 world records, 72 Asian records and 283 Asian Para Games records were set in Hangzhou.
It was not easy to organize such a massive event that went off smoothly without compromising on quality, said Chen Weiqiang, chief spokesperson for the Hangzhou Asian Para Games. He said the goal was to ensure the Asian Games and Asian Para Games were "equally brilliant".
"We have fulfilled our promise of making the Games streamlined, safe and splendid. It's fair to say that we have staged the most successful Asian Para Games in history and we have showed the warmth and love of the host city of Hangzhou," Chen said during Saturday's media conference.
"To ensure the para athletes enjoyed the best environment, for the past three years we have been working on upgrading and building barrier-free facilities across the host city, including at the airport, shopping malls and Games Village. Through the 4th Asian Para Games, the barrier-free environment in Hangzhou has reached a new level," Chen said.
The organizers will ensure the sustainable use of all the venues after the conclusion of the Games, and will keep pushing for the upgrade and building of para sports facilities, so that more people with disabilities start to embrace and enjoy sports, Chen added.
At the Games, Team China put up a fantastic performance to top the medal table. It won 521 medals, including 214 gold medals. Team China athletes also broke 12 world records and 36 Asian records.
"I am very excited to have participated in the Asian Paralympic Games in my hometown, and my family and friends came to cheer for me. I won five gold medals. I would like to thank all the people who helped me, thank you all, thank you Hangzhou," said Team China swimmer Xu Haijiao.
Xu added that he had won two silver medals in two earlier Paralympic Games and was looking forward to be on the top podium in Paris next year.