China’s Ai, Zhou win golds at home world para championships
Team China had the best possible finish to the 2017 World Archery Para Championships in Beijing as, on home soil, Paralympic champions Zhou Jiamin and Ai Xinliang claimed gold medals back-to-back in the compound women’s and men’s open finals.
“This is very good for our country, it shows how happy and talented we are,” said Zhou. “I am so happy and proud to be a part of this. The support helped so much, I feel the love from my family, friends, even people that I don’t know.”
“This is an honour for my country and my hometown. It is really great and it feels unreal,” added Ai.
Zhou won individual gold at the Rio 2016 Paralympics and, together with Ai, the pair were also victorious in the mixed team event. The new men’s world title holder finished fourth individually in Brazil, losing the bronze medal match to Australia’s Jonathon Milne.
This time around, Ai beat the 2016 Paralympic Champion, Andre Shelby, by one point with his final arrow. He delivered a 10 when he needed it to take victory, 142-141.
“It’s simple, he outshot me,” said Shelby. “He’s a great competitor. I didn’t shoot against him in Rio, thank god.”
Ai said he was so nervous that he was shaking before the match, although that wasn't evident in his rock solid shooting.
“I was really nervous going up against Andre,” Xinliang said. “I moved around to make sure I had the best shot, I was so worried.”
Team USA’s Ben Thompson won bronze earlier in the week. “I guess this makes me the bronze lady,” he quipped – having also won a men's team bronze medal.
Trailing throughout the match, the Paralympic Champion drew level at the end of the fourth end, and then finished with a nine, 10, 10 – to her opponent’s 28 – to seal victory.
Zhou was pleased with her success, but was more excited to show the other competitors in Beijing her home country.
“Archery is for me,” said Zhou. “It is my sport. I like this competition so much but it’s not just a game, it’s a party!”
The 2017 World Archery Para Championships run 12-17 September in Beijing, China.