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Blind Okinawa boy chosen to summer world sports games

Date Posted: 2009-06-18

Takumi Yabiku has been chosen to represent Japan in a summer sports tournament in Paris.

The 17-year-old Takumi, a student at the Okinawa Prefecture High School for the Blind, will represent the nation at the International Visual Handicapped Persons Sports Union Judo World Junior Games in July. This is the fourth year he’s been the Japan champion, winning last year’s Nationwide Visual Handicapped Persons Judo Tournament in Hiroshima.

Competing in the 90kg class, he’s already participated in the Paralympics in the Junior Class. The tournament rules state that degrees of visual handicap are not the key point; it’s just a matter of weight. Because of the visual impairment, the difference from regular judo matches is that competitors begin with a firm grip on competitors’ chests.

Takumi wasn’t blind at birth, but his eyesight deteriorated when he was 13. His corneas went dark, he got glasses and teachers put him at desks in the front of the classroom. It went downhill from there, with an Ophthalmologist telling him “you’ll lose your vision, little by little.” The teen didn’t give up, choosing judo as an outlet for his frustrations. Now, his goal is on winning a gold medal.

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