China off to dominant start with eight medals on day one of Winter Games

Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games - Para Alpine Skiing - Women's Downhill Vision Impaired- National Alpine Skiing Centre, Yanqing district, Beijing, China - March 5, 2022. Zhu Daqing of China reacts after her run. REUTERS/Aly Song

YANQING, China, March 5 (Reuters) - For a country that had won just one medal at the Winter Paralympics, China's campaign at the Beijing Games might already qualify as a huge success after they claimed an impressive eight medals on the opening day of action on Saturday.

The hosts were always expected to better their tally from Pyeongchang four years ago but Saturday's showing, which included medals in Alpine skiing and biathlon, proved that these Games could be a turning point for China in para winter sports.

Zhu Daqing won a surprise silver in the women's downhill vision impaired category before seven more medals followed, including biathlon sprint golds for Guo Yujie and Liu Zixu.

"This medal means that I stood on the top of the podium as a para biathlete, competing for my country internationally. I'm really proud," said Liu, who lost both legs in a car accident as a child.

"It's a sport (biathlon) that is both dynamic and static -- very challenging. Shooting well is hard, skiing fast is difficult as well," added Liu, who made all 10 shots to deny Ukraine's Taras Rad first place.

Zhu, who started competing in Alpine skiing only three years ago, said the Paralympics on home soil gave Chinese athletes the opportunity to show their quality on the world stage.

"I am grateful for such a platform so that we have the chance to perform better."

China topped the medal tally at the Summer Paralympics in Tokyo last year but have had limited success at the Winter Games, where their only previous medal -- a gold -- came in wheelchair curling at Pyeongchang.

The curlers are favourites to defend their title in Beijing, where China have sent the largest contingent among all countries, with 96 athletes expected to take part across all six sports.

Reporting by Dhruv Munjal; Editing by Kim Coghill

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