June 9 2021
By Barrier Free Japan with extracts from NHK
NAGANO – The world’s top 1,500m runners showed their nimbleness at a training camp for athletes with intellectual disabilities, who are expected to win medals at this summer’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
The training camp, which is being held at a facility in Tomi City, Nagano Prefecture, at an altitude of 1,750 meters, includes seven athletes who have been selected to represent Japan in the para-athletics class for intellectual disabilities.
This season, Japanese athletes are ranked high in the world in both the men’s and women’s 1500m races and are expected to become the first Japanese athletes with intellectual disabilities to win a medal at the Tokyo Paralympics. In the men’s race, world number one Daiki Akai (22) and second-placed Yuji Togawa (24) alternated between the track and the high and low course, strengthening their endurance in a thin oxygen environment. Anju Furuya (25), who is ranked third in the women’s race, also showed a nimble running style.
According to the sporting body, some of the athletes were unsure about continuing to train amid the controversy surrounding the Tokyo Games, but they are now concentrating on the competition with a clear goal in sight. Akai says: “There are many rivals, so I have to improve my competitiveness. I want to aim for the gold medal in Tokyo”. Togawa added: “I want to beat Akai and be number one in the Tokyo Para. I’m chasing him, so it’s good to have a goal”.