China are going from strength to strength as they gear up for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
They proved this yesterday during the second day of the World Cup series at the Regal Riverside Hotel in Sha Tin, where their fencers shared the gold medal tally with their hosts.
Hong Kong won gold in both the women's epee (category A and B) thanks to Yu Chui-yee and Chan Yui-chong respectively, while the mainlanders took both in the men's epee. Zhou Jun defeated compatriot Zang Weiwei 15-11 in the A final while Hu Daoliang overcame Hong Kong's Hui Charn-hong 15-9 in category B.
China also dominated the men's sabre category A as they won all three medals on the opening day.
'The sport is still in a developing stage, but of course we are looking forward to hosting the 2008 Paralympic Games,' said China team official Zhuang Xingdi. 'The national team was formally established in 2002 and we have been given necessary resources to work out a plan leading to the 2008 Games.'
Zhuang said their disabled fencers were now training at six centres across the country and most of them were on a full-time basis. Although the official did not disclose the amount, it was reported that a sum of RMB100 million had been invested in developing disabled sports in China.
Both Hong Kong's Yu and Chan collected their second gold medal yesterday after their success in the foil on the opening day. Yu defeated Krajnyak Zsuzsanna of Hungary 15-10 in the final while Chan also prevailed in the 15-12 victory over Carol Hickey of the United States.
'I have improved a lot, both technically and mentally,' said Yu, who won four gold medals for Hong Kong at the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games.
A first year student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Yu said she was able to spend more time in training as a varsity student because of the flexibility in her studies. She will represent Hong Kong in the World Championships in Turin in September as well as the FESPIC Games in Kuala Lumpur in November.
Both Yu and Chan will start in the team event today along with fellow fencer Fan Pui-shan. There are only two teams in the women's event and they will need to beat China to clinch the gold.
More than 80 athletes from 12 countries are taking part in the first World Cup series to be held outside Europe.
Yu Chui Yee