Paralympics set Games 'benchmark'
'Spectacular' event shows that China has become a winter sports 'powerhouse', says IPC president.
After a warm closing ceremony and the extinguishing of the Paralympic flame in the main cauldron, the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games concluded on Sunday after giving testimony to how sports can bring the world together, while the Games have left legacies for the host nation and future Paralympics.
"If Beijing 2008 started a new chapter of growth for the Paralympic Movement, then Beijing 2022 has marked a new dawn for the Paralympic Winter Games," International Paralympic Committee Andrew Parsons said at the closing ceremony.
"You promised simple, safe and splendid. You delivered stunning, secure and spectacular. Awesome organization, vibrant venues and sensational sport－the hallmarks of great Games here in Beijing.
"For sure, China has set a benchmark for all future Winter Games. For certain, China is now a Paralympic winter sports powerhouse," Parsons added.
Topping the medal table with 18 gold, 20 silver and 23 bronze medals, Team China made major breakthroughs at the Beijing Winter Paralympics, presenting home fans with China's best-ever results in any Winter Paralympics.
Among the 96 Chinese para athletes, 85 participated in the Winter Paralympics for the first time, and their average age is 25. Given the fact that China won its first Winter Paralympic gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, in wheelchair curling, the nation's surprising performance wowed the world.
According to Zhao Sujing, the secretary-general of the Chinese delegation, behind the fast improvement of Team China's performance is the development of China's Paralympic winter sports and the better environment for people with disabilities in China.
"We hope the great performance of the Chinese para athletes at the Beijing Winter Paralympics will encourage more people with disabilities to get out of their homes and embrace sports. And through sports, they can be better involved in our society," said Zhao.
In addition, "we will further promote the rehabilitation, education and employment of people with disabilities in our society who need to have more understanding, respect and care toward them", Zhao added.
The Beijing Winter Paralympics provided para athletes and all participants with smooth competition operations, top-class venues, a great barrier-free environment, warm living conditions at Paralympic villages, convenient transportation and comprehensive volunteer services, Beijing organizing committee officials said.
The great quality of the Beijing Winter Paralympics has earned positive feedback from the athletes, sports federations and the International Paralympic Committee.
Dutch snowboarder Chris Vos, who competed at the Zhangjiakou competition zone, was among those who were impressed by the passion of volunteers, the quality of the venues and the accessibility at the Beijing Games.
"All the volunteers and people help us here, and everybody is really nice. I would really love to come back here again and see more of China. I'm sure there will be a lot of games going on here in the future, because the facilities have been set up," said Vos.
US para Alpine skier Patrick Halgren, who finished in 24th place in men's slalom standing competition, also said he had a great experience in Beijing.
"I couldn't even have imagined something that good in the venue, how all the locations and the roads get you everywhere. Thanks from the bottom of my heart, and it means so much. It's better than I imagined. I'm living my dream," said Halgren.