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【Athletics]】The World Para Athletics Championships to Take Place July 14

The World Para Athletics Championships will be held in London, UK, from July 14 to 23. It will be held before the IAAF World Championships, and this is the first year for para and non-para championships to be held at the same place and around the same time. Fifty athletes will represent Japan, including Atsushi Yamamoto (T42) who is anticipated to snatch his third consecutive medal in the long jump, Rio Paralympic medalist Tomoki Sato (T52), Hajimu Ashida (T47), and first-timers Tomoki Ikoma (T54) and Yuki Nishi (T54).

The first step towards a Tokyo gold

Junichi Kobayashi, High Performance Committee Chairman of Japan Para Athletics, explained the characteristics of the Japan team at a press conference held on June 9.

High Performance Committee Chairman Kobayashi talking about the athletes

"We had no gold medals at London or Rio, but I definitely want to get a gold at Tokyo. To achieve this goal, we have been actively sending athletes overseas starting this March, to give them opportunities to compete with tough opponents. We are trying to raise the level of our athletes.

In the wheelchair T54 class, there are many young members between 20 and 25 who did not attend the Rio Paralympics. About three or four are trying to catch up to and exceed (Japanese top athlete) Masayuki Higuchi through friendly rivalry, and they are getting better so I am looking forward to their performances.

In the amputee group, many of our athletes have reached the level of aiming for a medal, for example Atsushi Yamamoto and Hajimu Ashida in the long jump. As a new step towards Tokyo, I hope to see every athlete achieve their individual goals at the World Championships and the Japan team obtain many medals."

Below are comments from athletes attending the press conference.

- Yuki Nishi
"This will be my first World Championships. From last year throughout this year, the World Championships were my greatest goal, and I am very happy to be selected for the team. To make the team is not my only goal, so I hope to exhibit my best performance and get good results."

- Kazumi Nakayama
"This will be my third World Championships. Last year in Rio I was eliminated in the preliminaries, so this time I hope to make it to the finals in all of my events."

Nakayama, Ashida, Maegawa, Nishi and Yamamoto attended the press conference for the World Championships.

- Atsushi Yamamoto
"I am aiming for the gold, which I was not able to get at the Rio Paralympics. In the long jump I got gold medals in the 2013 and 2015 World Championships, so I am trying for a third consecutive gold. I hope to attend in a good condition as the defending champion."

- Kaede Maegawa
"I spent this winter disappointed at my experience at the Rio Games, as I did not get a medal. In London I definitely want a medal in the long jump. I would like to get a diploma in the 100-meter as well."

- Hajimu Ashida
"In this season's ranking, I am first in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump. I go into the World Championships with this ranking, but I do not expect to get the same results. In fact, at the World Championships two years ago I was second in the ranking but finished fifth. For the next month I hope to raise the average of my performance."

Defending champion (gold medalist) Nakagawa and others will attend

The visual impairment class includes 400-meter Japan record holder Mana Sasaki (T13), Tomomi Sato (T13) and Shinya Wada (T11).

There are eleven intellectual disability athletes including Daisuke Nakagawa, gold medalist of the 5000-meter in the last Championships, marathon runner Ryo Kaneko, and Mitsuo Yamaguchi, who won the long jump silver medal at the 2017 INAS World Athletics Championships held this May in Thailand.

text&photo by TEAM A
photo by Getty Images Sport
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