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i enjoy! Para Sports Park! (Part II) | Special Instruction Provided by Professional Athletes

Shouts of “Go! Go! Go!” rang out in the racing wheelchair workshop, where participants were challenged to see how fast they could go (kilometers per hour) on a racing wheelchair in a 10-second period. Though the time itself was short, participants in this workshop were all red-faced when they finished, from putting all their energy into moving the tires as fast as they could. “For a 200m sprint, we generally have to go all out for about 30 seconds,” said wheelchair athlete Yuki Nishi (Wheelchair Racing; sprints), instructor at the workshop, as the crowd marveled. “You really need to learn how to keep the tires moving with the palms of your hands,” said a participant, who was at the wheelchair rugby workshop as well.

Moving the tires as fast as possible, under the watchful eye of Nishi and the staff

Participant looking cheerful after giving the exercise his all

Those who did the best had their scores listed on the board

Many of the participants were elementary school students

The racing wheelchair ground most of the participants into submission in the span of ten seconds. Nishi, however, is on his racing wheelchair every day, working through intense training—as evidenced by his barrel-like upper arms and 110cm pectoral muscles. He tells us, “I specialize in the sprint events, so the time I actually get in the events is short. But I personally think it’s important that my opponents see how big I am when I show up at the event.”

Many Visitors “Just Stopped by,” and in Doing So Changed Their View of Parasports

The para-powerlifting workshop attracted many visitors confident in their physical strength. Unlike bench-pressing for the able-bodied, however, para-powerlifting requires that you lift the barbell with your legs stretched out in front of you. Even those that regularly trained at the gym found that they could not lift as much as they usually could, since they could only use their upper body strength.

Para-powerlifting workshop—lifting a barbell with only your upper body strength

Female participant laughs as she tries to lift the barbell

Parasapo staff member and para-powerlifting athlete Eri Yamamoto-McDonald (left) was in charge of the workshop

“i enjoy! Para Sports Park” also featured a boccia workshop, as well as a picture-card show by Shibuya Gagekidan meant to relay the appeal of parasports. Many visitors also stopped by the “Tokyo Tokyo Old meets New* Exhibition Corner,” which featured panels of photos from the 1964 Tokyo Paralympic Games.

*: “Tokyo Tokyo Old meets New” is an icon and catchphrase meant to express Tokyo’s unique status as a city that combines traditions from the Edo Period with cutting-edge culture. The city of Tokyo is currently making efforts to promote Tokyo as a brand and travel destination both domestically and internationally.

Boccia workshop, particularly popular amongst young people and children

Staff members explaining the rules of boccia in an easy-to-understand way

Children working intently to take aim

Picture-card show that relayed the appeal of parasports

Many families came as well

Yamuchan (right) and Kamiharu (left), who work with professional picture-card performers

Tokyo Tokyo Old meets New Exhibition Corner

Volunteers from universities and the NTT Group, working towards the popularization of parasports ©Parasapo

More than a few people who participated in these workshops told us that they had not previously had much interest in parasports, but that they had stopped by as part of their visit to Tourism EXPO Japan 2018. Many of these people also said that after experiencing these parasports for themselves, and understanding their appeal, they were now more interested in parasports in general. We hope that people who have never experienced parasports head to the various workshops being held in areas throughout Japan, and try it out.

text by Shinichi Uehara, Parasapo
photo by Hisashi Okamoto

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