Zhou: Eat, sleep and breathe archery; it becomes part of you

Compound archer Zhou Jiamin smiles widely after she shoots each arrow, whether it is a perfect 10 or a miss. The 27-year-old Chinese para athlete knows she has podium potential, but thinks the impact she makes on others is more important. 

“People doing para archery are very nice people,” Zhou said. “That is important to know. They have a good energy about them and it’s something you want to be a part of.”

At the Paralympics in Rio, Zhou won gold in the compound open mixed team and the individual compound open events.

She returned to China keen to spread her message.

Zhou was elected as the representative of the People’s Congress in her home city of Zhejiang, where she has spent time with people with impairments. 

“I want to use my success to do more,” Zhou said. “We are very fortunate in China to have good life quality for people with disabilities. Not everybody is that fortunate. Other disabled people are just like me and I want them to have similar opportunities.”

Zhou is happy her country is hosting a major event for the first time in her four-year career. She said Beijing is much bigger than her hometown of Zhejang, and hopes to explore the city herself.

“People can truly experience my country and see what it has to offer. Beijing is very big and busy, but the people, the food and the life is all a great representation of our culture,” she explained.

The host country’s 17-member squad features a mix of veteran archers like defending World Archery Para Champion Wu Chunyan with a bunch of new faces.

“The national team keeps changing. This group is very young, but it’s fun to meet all the new faces,” she added.

Zhou hopes that athletes and spectators will be inspired by this event.

“Archery is not just for competition, it is a lifestyle,” she said. “You eat, sleep breathe archery and it becomes a part of you."

“Sometimes times can be hard and things can be bad, but I remind myself to do my best and keep working. I want to be a more happy person, always, and let people see the joy that archery gives me.”

The 2017 World Archery Para Championships run 12-17 September in Beijing, China.