Image Credits: @Paralympics - Twitter
Chinese para-swimmer Zheng Tao has now won four gold medals and broken several records at Toyko Paralympics 2020 despite having no arms. Zheng had lost his hands as a child after getting electrocuted. He dominated with wins in freestyle, backstroke, and butterfly. All of his individual wins have been world or Paralympic records.
On Wednesday, by winning the 50m freestyle final, he won China's 500th gold medal at the Summer Paralympic Games since they first started competing back at the 1984 Games in New York City. After Zhang won the race, he told reporters, "I went all out with no regrets as this is my last race at Tokyo 2020. I think this was one of my best races ever."
On Monday, he ended up setting a world record in the 50m backstroke final with a time of 31.42 seconds. Right after this victory, he spoke to his daughter in a video message, "Daughter, look at me - I can swim so fast even though I don't have arms!" For this race, he starts by hanging himself off the side of the pool with a sheet in his mouth before kicking himself back.
According to reports, Zheng has trained for the Tokyo Paralympics by swimming at least 10km every day. He took up the sport at the age of 13, and then went on to make his international debut six years later at the World Championships in the Netherlands. He won his first Paralympic gold at the London Paralympics 2012 in the 100m backstroke S6 event. So far, he has managed to win nine Paralympic medals.
At the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo, he has won the gold medal in the Men’s Butterfly S5 event setting a world record of 30.62, the gold medal in the Men’s Backstroke S5 event, and also set another world record of 31.42, and the gold medal in the 50m Freestyle S5. In the 2016 summer Paralympics in Rio, he suffered a lower back injury but still went on to win the gold medal and break his own world record in the Men's 100-meter backstroke S6 event with a timing of 1:10.84. He then had stomach flu on the day of his 50-metre butterfly S6 final, and lost to his teammate Xu Qing but still managed to win a silver medal in the event.