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2021 Paralympic Games: Wang Jiachao, from 100m butterfly to triathlon

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At 29, Wang Jiachao is already competing in his fourth Paralympic Games. After having shone in the swimming pools, the champion will compete this year in the triathlon event. Amputated his arm after being electrocuted as a child, he is nicknamed on social networks “Tetsuwan Atom”, in honor of the Japanese manga Astro boy.

Wang Jiachao is not yet thirty years old, but he already has a great sports career behind him. Entered Saturday, August 28 in the triathlon event, this Chinese athlete will compete in Tokyo for his fourth Paralympic Games.

Its history with the Games begins in 2004 in Athens. At the time, he was only 13 years old and competed in the 100m butterfly. “I was about four feet tall. When I stood next to other athletes, I had to lift my head to look at them. I felt like a child competing with it. [des adultes]”, he says on the official website of the Games. “My coach asked me to swim as usual, regardless of the size of other swimmers. I didn’t expect to be able to finish.”

“The classmates were laughing at me”

Originally from a remote village in Yunnan province (center), nothing predestined him to such a fate. Everything changed when he was 5 years old. The young boy climbs on a transformer. Electrocuted, he must have his left arm amputated. His childhood was then a long struggle. “There are a lot of things you can’t do, like climb trees, cut grass and plow fields. I was also bullied at school. Classmates laughed at me, because I only had one arm “. Determined to prove his worth to others, he begins to swim in a river near his village: “I learned for myself. I first dabbled in the water, just enough not to drown. “.

His efforts were quickly rewarded. At the age of 10, he stood out. “I was chosen. One day, officials from the region came to my village to distribute disability certificates. They saw me and told me to go to Kunming to become an athlete,” he explains to Asia News Day. Despite his very young age, his parents accept. In less than three years, he found himself at the Paralympic Games. After this first experience in Athens in 2004, he participated in those of Beijing in 2008 where he won two silver medals and another bronze, then in those of London in 2012 where he won the gold in relay and two other medals. silver. Three years later, he decided to retire to concentrate on his studies and become a physical education teacher.


From swimming to triathlon

But very quickly, his taste for competition took over. He then turned to triathlon and had only one goal: to return to the Paralympic Games. But the discipline was not very developed in his country at the time. There is not even a national team. “It was the lack of support and the difficult situation that made my determination stronger. No matter how difficult the path, I was ready to go it as long as I could compete,” he said.

A lucky star allowed him to cross paths with Peter Wolkowicz, German triathlon trainer living in Shanghai. The latter offers to train him and finds him a sponsor. In 2018, Wang Jiachao joined the national Paralympic cycling team. At the last world paratriathlon in 2019, the former swimmer finished in the 2e place, behind the Frenchman Alexis Hanquinquant.

Positive in front of the Lord, the champion nicknamed himself on social networks “Tetsuwan Atom”, in reference to the Japanese manga Astro, the little robot. “The atom is also the smallest constituent unit of matter, but it has great power. Although I am small, I am strong,” he sums up. Also endowed in his own way with super powers, he wants to be a model for the youngest and has a project to create a training center in physical education when he retires from sports: “I hope that I could inspire and transmit the positive things of my experience, with a smile “.

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