Team China shines as Paralympics end
With the extinguishing of the flame in the caldron, the Tokyo Paralympic Games closed on Sunday night, with Team China winning 207 medals to top the tally.
The Chinese athletes－40 percent of them first-time Paralympians－won 96 gold medals, 60 silvers and 51 bronzes.
Great Britain trailed in second place with 124 medals, followed by the United States and the Russian Paralympic Committee.
It was the fifth consecutive time that Team China dominated the Paralympics－it first topped the ranking in 2004 with 63 golds.
In a congratulatory letter on Sunday, the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, China's Cabinet, extended their congratulations and warm greetings to the Chinese delegation.
The Paralympians have demonstrated how they challenged their limits with determination and resilience, the letter said.
"Your brilliant performance has set an example for many Chinese with disabilities, added luster to the cause of sports for people with disabilities and won glory for the nation," it said.
The letter called them a national inspiration as China works to build itself into a "modern socialist country" by 2035, and it asked them to pass down the glory and make continuous efforts.
It also encouraged them to inspire China's disabled community to have more self-esteem, confidence, self-improvement and independence in the face of daily challenges, and to become more involved in social affairs and make their due contributions to rejuvenating the Chinese nation, the letter added.
About 4,400 athletes from 162 countries and regions competed in 22 sports in Tokyo Paralympics.
China sent a delegation of 437, including the coaches and support staff with the athletes. The 251 athletes, 132 of whom are women, are amateurs from a variety of backgrounds, including factory workers, college students and farmers.
At the event, China maintained its traditional dominance in sports including track and field, swimming and table tennis, said Zhao Sujing, secretary-general of the delegation.
It also made breakthroughs in more sports, such as weightlifting, cycling and shooting, Zhao said, adding that it also performed well in team sports like sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and goalball.
Zhang Xuemei, a wheelchair basketball athlete, served as flag bearer of the delegation at the closing ceremony－her team finished with silver, after losing to the Netherlands 50-31 in the final, achieving their best-ever result in the Paralympics.
Zhang, 28, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, at age 17 and later had her left leg amputated.
She started playing the sport in 2012, joined the national team in 2015 and was among the crowned champions of the 2018 Jakarta Asian Games.
Younger Team China athletes also excelled in Tokyo.
Jiang Yuyan, a 16-year-old swimmer, was the youngest in the delegation. She won two gold, a silver and a bronze medal, and set two world records.
Safety was a priority for the delegation when it departed for the Games amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Japan last month.
Zhao said Team China had "zero infections" from the pandemic and "zero detections" of doping.
Their achievement, as well as the image the Chinese athletes presented at the Tokyo Paralympics, earned them the heartfelt congratulations of world athletes, she added.