Warm tears filled Zhang Yangming’s eyes as he clocked a time of 1:36.78 to win the Alpine skiing men’s slalom at the Chinese National Winter Games in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Sunday’s victory was a surprise for Zhang, who is still recovering from a severe injury suffered while training in Austria in March.
“I fractured my tibia and fibula and three steel nails were inserted into my ankle. I thought my career as an athlete was completely over,” said Zhang. “I was so sad back then and had not expected to recover in time for the National Games.”
Zhang received medical treatment in Europe, and after the nails were removed, he returned to his Jilin provincial team and restarted training.
“I was lost when I first began,” said Zhang. “I felt it was the hardest time in my 16-year career. Thanks to encouragement from my coach and teammates, I survived the frustration.”
Zhang finished fourth in the giant slalom on Saturday, even though his right leg was still not fully recovered.
“Always do my best” is Zhang’s key to success. Before the slalom, the 25-year-old was ambitious to leave no stone unturned in his quest for a medal. “It’s the best time for Chinese skiers,” Zhang said. “I hope I can qualify for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, but first, I need to fully recover and regain my best form.”