The 16th Workshop

December 17, 2015
"Building Strength and Training in Para Athletics, Including the Viewpoint of a Guide Coach"

Through my career as an athlete in athletics, I learned to: (1) pursue the sport with determination, (2) become strong in solitude, and (3) view as opportunities the times when others are unwilling. Essentially, I learned that "perseverance (faith) is strength."

I was unexpectedly asked to participate in the 1996 Atlanta Paralympic Games as a guide runner in the Blind Marathon, and won a gold medal. After Atlanta, I also participated as a guide runner in the 2000 Sydney Paralympic Games and the 2004 Athens Paralympic Games, for three consecutive Games. In the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, we had the bitter experience of enduring a crushing defeat, but subsequently worked hard to build strength, and in the 2012 London Paralympic Games, we achieved good results with all participating athletes winning prizes, including medals.

 A coach is necessary as someone to stand by and support active athletes, and the same can be said about blind runners. In my view, the elements a coach requires are: (1) insight, (2) on-site capability, and (3) ability to take action.

Important points in building strength and training for athletes and teams with disabilities are: (1) changing awareness, (2) improving individual records, and (3) strengthening team power. Para-sports associations need to provide support to athletes to ensure that they have adequate knowledge, including on international events, classifications, and rules specific to each sport. The understanding and support provided on a social level, including companies, places of learning, and local communities, are also very important.