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Paralympic Athletes, Up Close and Personal

Para-athletes are gaining increased media attention today in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and people’s interest in para-sports is on the rise. This series focuses on how these athletes have turned their disabilities into a source of strength and describes the many challenges they face in maintaining top competitive form while also fulfilling their work and family responsibilities.

Seated Hoops Star: Kōzai Hiroaki Leads Japan’s Wheelchair Basketball ChargeYoshii Taeko

Wheelchair basketball player Kōzai Hiroaki was a college star at the University of Illinois before going pro in Japan and Germany. He now looks to help bring team Japan its first Paralympic medal at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Kawamura Ryō: Leading Japan to Gold in Blind SoccerYoshii Taeko

Blind soccer is a demanding sport requiring speed, dexterity, and the ability to follow sound clues indicating the position of the ball and other players on the pitch. With the Tokyo Paralympics on the horizon, Japanese national team captain Kawamura Ryō says the squad is working hard to raise its game to the next level.

Kaneki Emi: Sitting Volleyball Playmaker Is Ambassador for the SportYoshii Taeko

Japanese national team member Kaneki Emi was 18 when she developed osteosarcoma, which left her with a disability. As part of her rehabilitation, she encountered sitting volleyball and found that she really enjoyed it. Getting ready to face strong teams from the United States, China, and other countries, Kaneki is fired up and hopes to do well with her team at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Tani Mami: Iron Paralympian with a Heart of GoldYoshii Taeko

Tani Mami lost her right leg to osteosarcoma during college. She has since competed in three Paralympic Games with a prosthetic limb in the long jump. Now married and with a son, she is busy training for the 2020 Games in Tokyo in the much more physically demanding paratriathlon.

Nagashima Osamu: Shuttling Between Badminton and R&DYoshii Taeko

Badminton will become an official Paralympic sport at the 2020 Tokyo Games. While working as a researcher of stain-resistant technology at Lixil, a leading maker of sanitary ware and other home products, Nagashima Osamu is also busily preparing for the 2020 Games as one of the world’s highest-ranked para-badminton players.

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