Misawa perseveres for 4th shot at medal

Jiji Press

Para alpine skier Hiraku Misawa heads down a slope at Nagano on Feb. 19.

Jiji PressJapanese para alpine skier Hiraku Misawa had been looking forward to competing at the upcoming Pyeongchang Paralympics in perfect physical condition.

During a World Cup competition in Austria in December last year, however, the 30-year-old skier broke his left thigh in a fall on icy snow. The injury was so serious that three bolts were inserted to repair the fracture during surgery at a local hospital.

Fortunately, however, his right leg, on which he wears his ski, was undamaged. He wears a prosthetic limb on his amputated left leg, which is about 20 centimeters long.

“I’ve experienced little pain” from the injury, said Misawa, who competes for SMBC Nikko Securities Inc.

It was only in late January this year that he was able to ski again. Before the injury in the first competition for the current season, Misawa looked certain to be selected for the Pyeongchang Games, which will start on Friday for a 10-day run.

He made his Paralympics debut in 2006 at 18 and took part in the two subsequent quadrennial events. A decision on his selection for Pyeongchang was delayed, however, because he was unable to finish a race at any competitions authorized by an international sport association after the injury.

Yet he had confidence in himself.

Early last month, Misawa seized the opportunity to race at the Winter Paralympics for the fourth time by winning the Japan Para Championship event.

In South Korea, he will compete in the men’s standing class. While other athletes have been fine-tuning themselves for competition, Misawa remained calm.

“I think that competing at World Cup events is one thing and doing well at the Paralympics is another, so I’m not so worried” about having been absent from races for some time, he said.

Misawa’s best records were fifth at the 2006 Turin Games, sixth at the 2010 Vancouver Games and ninth at the 2014 Sochi Games.

“I don’t want to celebrate diplomas anymore,” he said. “I want to get a medal.”Speech

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