Chinese Para archer Wu regards Zahra Nemati as role model

March 8, 2019

TEHRAN – Chinese Para archer Wu Chunyan regarded Iranian legendary athlete Zahra Nemati as her role model.

It was in 2014 that Wu made her international debut in Para archery. It was also the first time that she met Iran’s Zahra Nemati, the gold medalist in the women’s individual recurve at the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

“After that competition, I regarded her as my role model in the archery field,” Wu said in an interview with Paralympic.org. “After returning to China, I trained harder to improve my competitive level and strengthen my self-confidence.”

Nemati was an easy figure to admire. A blackbelt in taekwondo before a car accident left her paralysed, the 33-year-old champion decided to take up Para archery and within months was already winning medals in national able-bodied competitions.

At London 2012, Nemati became the first Iranian woman to win a gold medal at an Olympic or Paralympic Games. She also qualified for both Olympic and Paralympic competitions at Rio 2016.

“When I first heard the name Zahra Nemati, I was only a new archer,” Wu said. “At that time she was already a champion of the Paralympic Games. She is an Olympic athlete too. I think it is a kind of unyielding belief and her own efforts that make her a strong athlete.”

Wu finished second to Nemati at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Since then, the Chinese archer has undertaken a massive effort to push her own athletic career forward.

Wu’s hard work paid off when she crossed paths with Nemati again, this time at the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, and emerged the winner against the woman who had been her long-term inspiration in the sport.

“Several major international events improved my performance, until 2018, when she and I met in the final again. The score was very close,” Wu said. “I should thank her for being a strong opponent.”

Wu continues to train hard, for as long as eight hours a day, with the goal of repeating the same performance at the 2019 World Para Archery Championships. Nemati was golden at the previous edition of the World Championships in Beijing, while Wu was third.

“The will to win is important to me,” Wu said. “I love archery from the bottom of my heart. It has brought me great happiness and something beyond honor.

“At the 2019 World Championships, what I need to do is to make the best of what I have in training and not leave with any regrets,” Wu concluded.  

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