Chinese para-swimmer Zheng Tao has won the internet after shattering records and winning four gold medals at the Tokyo Games – despite having no arms.
“Daughter, look at me – I can swim so fast even though I don’t have arms!” he said in a video message to his daughter after one race. Zheng, who lost his arms to an electric shock as a child, dominated with wins in freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.
All of his individual victories have been world or Paralympic records.
His 50m freestyle final on Wednesday – a Games record – was particularly celebrated on Chinese social media as it also marked the country’s 500th summer Paralympic gold since the country first competed at the 1984 Games in New York City.
After winning the race, Zheng told reporters: ‘I went all out with no regrets as this is my last race at Tokyo 2020. I think this was one of my best races ever.’ Earlier on Monday, the Yunnan Province native set a world record in the 50m backstroke final with a time of 31.42s.
It was after this that he spoke to his two-year-old daughter on camera in an emotional moment that was widely circulated online. For this race, he starts by hanging off the side of the pool with a sheet in his mouth, before kicking himself back.
Online, social media users were wowed by his upper body strength and called him a “true inspiration” and a “source of pride”.
According to reports, Zheng trained for the Tokyo Games by swimming at least 10km every day.
He took up the sport at the age of 13, and made his international swimming debut six years later at the World Championships in the Netherlands.
He then went on to win his first Paralympic gold at London 2012 in the 100m backstroke event. To date, he has clinched nine Paralympic medals.