Okinawan Athletes to Compete at London Paralympics

The great London Paralympics begins next Wednesday, and two athletes from Okinawa are set to compete.

Shin Nakazato of Urasoe City will be heading to his third Paralympics for bouts of Wheelchair Rugby: He has played in two consecutive Paralympics and won seventh prize in the last Paralympics in Beijing. The games are played with four players per team on a basketball court. Players get scores by passing a ball and carrying it on their lap to a goal. Tackles are allowed to intercept opposing team’s attempts, so they use special wheelchairs, which absorb hard attacks.

In situations where the wheelchairs crash against each other, the equipment makes a tremendous impact. At that instant, players are doubly fascinating.

The Japan’s first match is against France at 9:15 p.m. on Wed. the 5th at the basketball arena. The second match begins Thu. the 6th at 9:15 p.m. with Japan vs. USA. The third competition that pits Great Britain against Japan starts Fri., Sep. 7th, at 3 p.m.

Hirokazu Ueyonabaru from Okinawa City is competing in Track and Field. He won the silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Wheelchair Marathon. The marathon will not be staged at this Paralympics. Ueyonabaru runs in four men’s titles of track and field, 100, 200, 400 meters short-distance and middle-distance 800 meters. These games are magnetic. Competitors use a three-wheel sports-specific racer to run. The athlete races with his arms extended maximally, and speed created by the hands and the strong movements are fun to watch. The preliminary 100 meter events take place Sep. 2nd at 10 a.m., the, 200m Sep. 8th at 10:36 a.m., the 400m at 10:38 a.m. Sep. 3rd, and the 800m at 11:33 on Sep. 6th.

Both athletes say their goals are to get medals at the London Paralympics. Nakazato says “I’d like to bring vigor, courage, and impressions to Okinawa.” Ueyonabaru spoke at a pep rally before leaving Okinawa for London, promising “I’ll do my best and won’t give up till the end!”

We all should be able to see fine performances by all of the athletes from the world. You mustn’t miss it!