China’s Lijun Zhang believes the country’s defeat in the women’s sitting volleyball gold medal match at Rio 2016 showed how the sport has developed.
Zhang was a member of the Chinese team who were seeking a third straight Paralympic title at the Games, having previously triumphed at Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
They would ultimately fall short though, with the United States beating them 3-0 in the gold medal match.
“I still feel that it was a pity we ended in second place, I was dreaming of my third gold medal,” Zhang told the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
“However, I think it’s good to have a new champion.
“It means sitting volleyball has reached a higher level, we need to improve our skills to catch up with them and work harder.”
Zhang has suggested the sport could be developed further introducing able-bodied people to play, making it faster and better.
She believes able-bodied players competing would help to enhance the skills of the Chinese team as their look to reclaim the Paralympic title at Tokyo 2020.
The 31-year-old is currently on a break from the sport but expects China to be raring to go come the next Paralympic Games.
“I look forward to trying to help China claim gold again,” she said.
“I was told that many people in Europe play sitting volleyball, they do not have a disability but they still played the game for fun.
“It is a very good way to exercise, for able body and people with disabilities.
“The more people who play and know the sport, the faster and better the sport will develop.
“I wish in China that we have the chance to introduce the sport to the able-bodied as well.”