China’s Wang: “The strong make me stronger”
Date: July 5, 2021
China’s world champion judoka Hongyu Wang is relishing the chance to make her Paralympic debut in August after a whirlwind first few seasons which have seen her clean-up on the international circuit.
Wang burst onto the scene in 2018, claiming silver at the Asian Para Games and then winning gold at the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Judo World Championships the following month in the women’s over 70kg. She has since also claimed the Asian title.
The 32-year-old came to visually impaired judo after a sustaining a serious eye injury competing in sighted judo. Wang is now the World No.3 and heads into the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics as one of the athletes to beat.
“I’m looking forward to spending time with some of the best disabled athletes around the world, showing the best performance and style representing Chinese athletes,” Wang said of her Paralympic debut. “I always encourage myself that I would stand on the top podium this summer. And I believe I can do it. That will mean I can live up to my efforts and expectation from my home country.”
But Wang is of course not alone in her aspirations. There are many judoka in the women’s heavyweights who also have their eye on the Paralympic title.
These include Italy’s European champion and world rankings leader Carolina Costa and Brazil’s Meg Emmerich, who beat Costa to gold at an IBSA Judo Grand Prix in June.
However Wang is not intimidated by the top quality competition she will face in Tokyo. It only fuels her fire.
“I think I’m the kind of athlete who becomes stronger when I meet the strong. The stronger the opponent, the more motivated I am.”
Not even a global pandemic can dampen her desire to reach the top. The whole Chinese team spent most of 2020 together in a training bubble, and skipped the final two Grand Prix in May and June this year. Wang says she feels physically ready to face the competition this summer, despite not having competed since September 2019.
“We changed the original plan of going out to improve the combat ability to enhancing technical and strategy skills,” Wang reported.
The Chinese judoka also revealed that she has taken advice from former teammate and Paralympic and world champion in the same weight category, Yuan Yanping.
“We usually have a discussion about technical tactics and competition feelings. She [Yanping] shared her past Paralympic competition experience with me. In view of the Tokyo Paralympic Games, she told me I don’t need to be nervous and just do what I know I can do.”
However Wang already knows the secret to success:
“Hard training, hard training and hard training…constantly improve the level of personal skills and tactics. Try to learn from opponents. Secondly, adjust psychological mind during every competition, and give yourself positive hints.”
The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games take place from 24 August – 5 September with judo featuring from 27-29 August at the iconic Nippon Budokan.