The National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of Japan has unveiled the 127 athletes who will compete at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Gamesthis September.
Headlining the roster are world champion cyclist Masaki Fujita, thewheelchair tennis duo of Shingo Kunieda and Yui Kamiji, and world champion swimmer Keiichi Kimura. Japan’s women’s goalball team also returns, targeting back-to-back Paralympic titles.
Fujita will look to improve upon the Paralympic bronze medal he claimed four years ago in the time trial C3. The 31-year-old captured the Asian title earlier this year. He won the 2015 World Championship title in the road race but could not replicate that performance later in the time trial, where he finished fifth.
Japan will be well represented in wheelchair tennis, with Kunieda looking to defend his Paralympic gold in the men’s singles and Kamiji looking to capitalise this year in the women’s singles after the legendary Esther Vergeer of the Netherlands retired following London 2012.
Kunieda however has struggled this year due to injury, dropping from No. 1 in the men’s rankings to No. 7 heading into Rio. But when healthy, the multi-Grand Slam champion has proven to be lethal.
Having competed at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012, securing silver in the 100m breaststrokeS11 at the latter, Kimura has shown impressive improvement; the 25-year-old won the world title in the 100m freestyle S11 and 100m breaststroke SB11 in 2013, and added two more world golds (defending his breaststroke title and adding the 100m butterfly S11) to his resume in 2015. Now he is in the hunt for his first Paralympic gold.
Of the six women named on Japan’s goalball team, four are returning from London 2012, led by Akiko Adachi. They will look to show they still have a winning edge after not making the podium in the 2014 World Championships, falling to Turkey in the bronze medal match.
Japan will send athletes to compete across archery, athletics, boccia, canoe, cycling,equestrian, goalball, judo, powerlifting, rowing, shooting, swimming, triathlon, table tennis,wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.