Swimmer with no arms smashes his own world record to win Tokyo 2020 gold medal
Zheng Tao won China's 500th gold medal since 1984 at the Summer Paralympics here on Wednesday after a narrow victory in the men's 50m freestyle S5 with a new Paralympic record at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Third-time Paralympian Zheng pocketed the 66th gold for Team China at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games in 30.31 seconds, beating his teammate Yuan Weiyi and Wang Lichao who won the silver and bronze respectively.
"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," the 30-year-old said.
Yuan, who finished his first Paralympic trip after winning the silver in 31.11 seconds, said: "I have won the gold, silver and also bronze in my first Paralymics here, which is already out of my expectation."
"But my goal here was to have the best results in my career. I was a little bit nervous and didn't make some breakthrough, but I am still very satisfied," the 21-year-old added.
When he rose from under the water, he already had a big lead and proceeded to kick his legs at tremendous speeds to pull away from the chasing pack.
And he powered through the final few metres to reach the wall in 31.42 seconds, shattering his own world record in the process.
Even more remarkably, Zheng's butterfly final took place later on that night, and the four gold medals he has bagged in Tokyo add to the Paralympic 100m backstroke titles he won at both London 2012 and Rio 2016, as well as picking up two silvers and a bronze over the course of those Games.
And his freestyle win two days later, also a new Paralympic record, represented China's 500th gold medal since 1984 at the Summer Paralympics.
"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," the 30-year-old said afterwards.
Zheng was still a child when he lost his arms in a freak electric shock accident, but at the age of 14 took up swimming and in 2010 made his international swimming debut when by representing China at the World Championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
As well as his feats in the Paralympics, he has four IPC Swimming World Championship gold, and two silver, medals to his name.