Feature: Dream comes true for Chinese Para snowboarder Sun

CHONGLI, Zhangjiakou, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Having taken up Para snowboard in 2016 and in search of a medal at the Beijing Winter Paralympics, Chinese rider Sun Qi, 22, fulfilled his dream with the men's banked slalom SB-LL2 gold here on Friday.

This is the 14th gold for host China, which tops the Paralympic tally with 14 gold, 14 silver and 19 bronze medals, followed by Ukraine with 9-10-6 and Canada with 7-4-9.

This is also the first Paralympic medal for Sun, who finished fourth in the men's cross SB-LL2 at Beijing 2022 on Monday after failing to make top 10 in the two events at PyeongChang 2018.

"The medal is like a key to starting the next chapter of my life. It encourages me to go forward, unafraid of difficulties. Because I did it this time, I believe I can do it next time," said Sun, who began skiing at age 16 and trains four hours a day.

The men's banked slalom SB-LL2 was the last event of the Paralympic snowboard competitions, in which China collected three gold, three silver and four bronze medals from four cross and four banked slalom events.

On the way he and his teammates went through for the Paralympic Games, Sun said, "This is a tough journey. It's like 100 steps we had finished 99. Today, the last step mattered. We made the last step well."

On bouncing back from finishing fourth in the cross, Sun said: "I was injured on my right clavicle when I competed in the world championships. That cast a shadow, more or less, for me on the jumping platform, which made me slower at that race."

"It's a pity. But it took me hours to walk out of that pity and make preparations for today's race," he added.

Sun had once trained in Para cycling at provincial level in China before switching to Para winter sports on the recommendation of a friend.

He has been involved in both Para snowboard and Para Alpine skiing. During the 2021-2022 season, he was classified in the SB-LL2 snowboard category and the LW4 Alpine skiing category.

In Para snowboard, Sun had won golds in SB-LL2 banked slalom at the 2018 Para Snowboard World Cup event in Landgraaf, the Netherlands, and the 2019 World Championships in Pyha, Finland.

Following Para snowboard's Paralympic Games debut at Sochi 2014, China entered its first Para snowboard athletes at PyeongChang 2018. Sun Qi and Liu Gengliang finished 11th and 14th respectively among 20 racers in the banked slalom SB-LL2. The pair finished 12th and 13th respectively in the cross SB-LL2.

China, which has expanded its Para snowboarding program, now has 18 Para snowboarders for Beijing 2022.