Image Credit: Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Although the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics has come to an end, its legacy of mutual support and cooperation has now brought together over 100 individuals to participate at the Tokyo Para Sports Next Generation Discovery Program on November 23. The event was held at BumB Tokyo Sports Culture Center and hosted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo Sports Association for Persons with Disabilities.
From wheelchair basketball to swimming, participants experienced over 20 different sports alongside professional coaches and Paralympians. Even equestrian and wheelchair fencing were available, opening up otherwise hard-to-come-by sports to Tokyoites.
Amongst the participating Paralympians was Mika Mizuta, a Tokyo 2020 Paralympian competing in one of the less-popular sports — shooting.
“I began shooting after participating in some competition experiences,” she says. Participating in this kind of event lets you actually experience what can’t be understood just by watching TV.” Mizuta aims to compete in the 2024 Paris Games with the hopes of widening awareness that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to para sports competitions.
“Whether you decide you want to become an athlete, or just enjoy sports, both are okay. I just hope that people will come out to take part in experience sessions like today.”
The Discovery Program was first founded by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 2015 with the aim that participants would go on to participate in international para sport competitions. So far, the project has been successful, with four athletes who progressed so far as to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
“As more para-athletes become active in international competition through this program, we hope that familiarity with para sports will increase, as will the number of people with disabilities who start participating in competitive sports,” says Tomiyama Takaaki, Director of Para Sports section.
If you missed out on this event, there’s good news; the event has been held 19 times since 2015 and officials say that providing opportunities to experience para sports continues to be of importance to Tokyo.
Taking a look at some of the up-coming para sports events in Tokyo is a good place to start for getting to know the athletes who are preparing for the challenge of qualifying for the Paris Paralympics in 2024. Watch boccia exhibition matches and listen to para-athletes talk at the “Beyond Stadium 2021” event on December 11, as well as various other para sports at the “Chale Spo! Tokyo” event on December 19.