Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games gold medallist Asila Mirzayorova from Uzbekistan and the winner of China’s historic first cross-country skiing gold medal, Peng Zheng were announced as Best Female and Best Male Athlete at the fourth edition of Asian Awards at an awards ceremony in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia during the Asian Paralympic Committee’s Conference and General Assembly.
India’s Sheetal Devi, the ‘armless archer’ who went viral after her performances in Hangzhou picked up the Best Youth athlete.
Award winners were announced in six categories – Best Male Athlete, Best Female Athlete, Best Youth Athlete, Best Team Performance, Best Photography and Exemplary Asian Official.
Mirzayorova is a long jumper who is the reigning World Champion in the T11 category after winning Gold in Paris earlier this year. At the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games, she took Gold in the Long Jump but also competed in the 200m and 400m, winning bronze in each event.
“I am very happy today. I wasn’t expecting to get this honour; this is one of my biggest ever achievements so far. My biggest goal is to get the gold medal at Paralympics,” said the 24-year-old visually impaired athlete.
Aside from his historic first gold medal, Peng Zheng went onto win another gold and two silver medals, at the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games making him China’s most decorated Winter Paralympian.
Devi added: “I am very happy to get this award. This is a big honour to be named the best in Asia. I hope I can continue winning more medals for my nation. I am training hard to get a medal for India at the Paralympics.”
Best Team Performance went to I.R. Iran’s Men’s Wheelchair Basketball Team following their bronze medal at the Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in July, making them the first Asian NPC to reach the podium in 14 editions of the championships.
The Best Photography Award went to Masamine Kawaguchi from Japan for his images from Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympic Games which captured the dynamism, skill, and speed of the downhill skiers.
The final award for Exemplary Asian Official went to Mr. Young-ju Lee from the Republic of Korea who is the coach of the Korean Para Cycling Team. Under his leadership they won 8 medals including four golds at the Hangzhou Asian Para Games.
Asian Order to six recipients
The Asian Order was presented to six recipients for their contribution to the Paralympic Movement in Asia. Shaikh Mohamed Duaij Al Khalifa President of NPC Bahrain, Mr. Manabu Aso from Japan, Mr. Mukhtorkhon Tashkhodjaev, President of NPC Uzbekistan and the Executive Secretary General of HAPGOC, Mr Chen Weiqiang.
To additional Asian Orders were presented to Mr. Jung Jin Owan from the Republic of Korea and Mr Yasushi Yamawaki from Japan, both of whom had been awarded the Paralympic Order by the IPC.
A final Award of Appreciation was given to NPC KSA President, His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, President of the Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee for all of his efforts in promoting the Paralympic Movement in Saudi Arabia and across Asia.
Congratulating the winners, APC President Rashed said: “These athletes and officials have been exemplary in their respective fields. Their performances and works have inspired, motivated many, and contributed hugely to the growth of the Paralympic Movement in the region. Many congratulations to all of them.”
Rashed also acknowledged the efforts of the NPCs who have supported their athletes and paved their way to success.