2016 Paralympic Games

A shark in the pool, Xu will not be defeated

China's Xu Qing celebrates winning the 50m fly S6 final at London 2012. He won four golds in the British capital and has similar targets in Rio. The tattoo on his back (below) shows that he means business.
China's Xu Qing celebrates winning the 50m fly S6 final at London 2012. He won four golds in the British capital and has similar targets in Rio. The tattoo on his back shows that he means business.PHOTOS: REUTERS
China's Xu Qing celebrates winning the 50m fly S6 final at London 2012. He won four golds in the British capital and has similar targets in Rio. The tattoo on his back (below) shows that he means business.
China's Xu Qing celebrates winning the 50m fly S6 final at London 2012. He won four golds in the British capital and has similar targets in Rio. The tattoo on his back (above) shows that he means business.PHOTOS: REUTERS

BEIJING • The shark tattoo on Xu Qing's back is a sign that he means business, but the Rio Paralympics may be the swansong for the Chinese swimming great.

Xu lost most of his arms in a car accident when he was six. A doctor, also a para-athlete, started him on swimming a year later.

And Xu has since won seven gold medals in a glittering Paralympics career.

He says the tattoo brings him luck but he also follows a rigid "scientific" training regimen which has brought success.

The 23-year-old scooped four titles at London 2012, where China grabbed 95 golds - streets ahead of their nearest challenger Russia, with 36.

Xu also won 50m freestyle S6 world titles in 2013 and last year.

"Rio is possibly my last Paralympic Games. I will try my best," said Xu, according to the Paralympic movement website.

Asked who will be his main rivals in Rio, he said: "I see myself as the biggest opponent... winning over myself will make it possible (to perform well)."

In London, Xu won the 50m and 100m freestyle S6, 50m butterfly S6 and 200m individual medley SM6, and he will set similarly high standards in Rio.

He made his Paralympics debut at Athens in 2004, when he was just 11, but he shot to prominence four years later in Beijing when he won three golds and a bronze.

"'A man can be destroyed but not defeated,' it says in 'The Old Man and The Sea,'" said Xu. "This can be used to explain Para sports.

"I hope to witness transcendence in Rio.

"I (would like) people to be influenced by Paralympic athletes, and live a more active and happier life."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2016, with the headline 'A shark in the pool, Xu will not be defeated'. Print Edition | Subscribe