The Yomiuri Shimbun RIO DE JANEIRO — Japan won two silver medals in road cycling at the Rio de Janeiro Paralympics on Wednesday, with Yurie Kanuma taking second in the women’s time trial for the visually impaired and Masaki Fujita securing that spot in the men’s time trial for athletes with impaired muscle power including cerebral palsy.
Kanuma was making her Paralympic debut in cycling and brought Japan its first medal in the women’s portion of the event. Fujita made the podium for his third consecutive Paralympics.
Keiichi Kimura won the silver medal in the men’s 100-meter butterfly for the visually impaired, capturing his third medal in Rio.
In wheelchair tennis, Yui Kamiji secured a bronze, winning her third-place match in women’s singles to bring Japan its first medal in the event in Rio.
In athletics, Sae Tsuji also made her Paralympic debut, winning the bronze medal in the women’s 400 meters for athletes with limb deficiencies.
Glorious debut for Tsuji
Tsuji’s achievement in athletics came only 1½ years after she switched to the sport from handball.
“I felt like I was in a dream,” the 21-year-old said after the race.
Born without a right forearm, Tsuji began playing handball in the fifth grade of primary school and soon became able to catch the ball with her chest. She competed with able-bodied people and participated in national championship games.
A turning point came in the summer of her sophomore year of college, when people around Tsuji — impressed by her explosive power in races — encouraged her to switch to track and field.
She chose to compete in the 400 meters to take advantage of the stamina she had developed playing handball. After tweaking her initially awkward style, Tsuji was able to easily improve her overall race times. Next, she focused on increasing her acceleration over the latter half of the sprint, and managed to shave more than 1 second off her time in the final straightaway.
“I’ve put all my effort into athletics, trying not to feel regret for giving up on handball,” Tsuji said, her face wet with tears. “I want to win a medal with a better color at the Tokyo Games.”Speech