Shortly after the Asian Para Games officially opened in Hangzhou, Chinese Taipei
met with immediate success. Xiang-wen Xiao, a good taekwondo player from the
National Chung Cheng University(CCU) Department of Athletics Sports, won
Taiwan’s first gold medal at the 4th Asian Para Games on October 23, 2023.
Overcoming all difficulties along the way, Xiao reached his first career gold medal
bout after defeating a Japanese fighter in the men’s K44 under 58kg taekwondo event,
and earned the top honor at the center platform of the podium.
Xiang-wen Xiao can be said to be the dark horse during this para game, for he entered
the gold medal match on his debut for the Asia Pacific Games. Xiao originally wanted
to try to make Taiwan's national taekwondo team, but two days before a scheduled
tryout, he was involved in a traffic accident that left him with damaged nerves in his
right arm and became a para-athlete. “I felt nervous when I was first standing on such
a grand stage, but what I could do to prepare before the games was to improve my
skills and techniques, and meanwhile to control my weight since athletes are divided
into weight categories," Xiao said. He also especially practiced the turning kick to
better cope with his biggest imaginary enemy, the Mongolian athlete, hoping to
achieve good results on the field.
As the quarter-finals began, Xiang-wen Xiao went on the offensive actively and held
every opponent down. In the first game Chinese Taipei versus South Korea, Xiao
kicked hard and scored several times, beating his rival with a 30-point difference. In
the second round with an Uzbek player, Xiao displayed a deliberate tempo and
successfully closed out the issue with a powerful kick. When Xiao moved to the final
with the Japanese fighter who ranked fifth in the category for men’s K44 under-58 kg
on the world para taekwondo ranking, Xiao kept up the tempo and eventually won the
championship with an excellent 27-11 advantage in the competition.
Xiao revealed that he used to take a slow style to compete, and the patterns were
accordingly fixed and single, however, after discussing with both his coaches at the
taekwondo gym and CCU, this time he applied a new strategy. “Let the tempo
sometimes fast and sometimes slow, or start with a slow tempo to upset the opposite,
and then attack,” Xiao added. He used to be an average player, but during the
competitions for the Asian Para Games, he always paid attention to keep his feet from
kicking his rival’s head to avoid disqualification.
As Xiang-wen Xiao's coach at CCU, Dr. Yen-Ni Wu is not only the associate
professor of the CCU Department of Athletics Sports, but also a Taiwanese
taekwondo athlete who bagged a silver medal for Taiwan at the 2006 Asian Games in
Doha. According to Dr. Wu, "In the first two games, Xiao performed even better than
expected, he wasn’t afraid of losing points and dared to attack on the court. When it
came to the final, he was a little nervous at first, and kicked self-consciously,
contributing to a slow tempo, but later, Xiao displayed his attacking intent once again
and gradually widened the lead to open up the score of the game." Dr. Wu also
mentioned that after this Asian Para Games, Xiao stands a better chance of squeezing
into the top six of his weight category on the World Para-Taekwondo Paralympic
Ranking list of January 2024, and will prepare for other competitions to increase his
points to qualify for the 2024 Paralympics game.
"No success was won without persistence, if you want it, just persist. Persistence may
not necessarily lead to gains, but hard work never goes in vain. Believe in yourself, as
well as I always encourage myself throughout the competitions," Xiao encouraged
CCU fellow students in the Department of Athletics Sports to preserve in the sports
field, and thanked his family, girlfriend, and the university for supporting him in his
journey and having his back along the way, stating that he will continue to participate
in the competitions by the end of 2023 and move towards his goal of attending the
2024 Paralympics game in Paris.