Japan hope to win first ever wheelchair rugby gold at Asian Para Games
BY BEAU GREENWAY
Wheelchair rugby has been included in this year’s Asian Para Games for the first time and top ranked side, Japan, are hoping to go all the way and win the gold medal.
The event featuring four teams including South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia takes place in Incheon, South Korea from 19 October with the medal matches to be played on 22 October.
Japan are currently ranked No.4 in the IWRF world rankings and recently finished 4th at the World Championships in Odense, Denmark, making them the heavy favorites to win the event.
Daisuke Ikezaki was brilliant in DenmarkI and will again play a pivotal role in the success of team Japan in beating their main rivals in the Asian zone.
“We understand that our results reflected our level indeed. In order to get the medal, we need to further improve ourselves,” Ikezaki said.
“We understand that the Incheon Games is the highest competition in Asia so we are strengthening ourselves in both mind and body. As a team, we executed a training camp, by which we came to have strong sprit, good technique and physical strength.”
A lot of hard work from the South Korean organising committee has gone into securing the sport in this major event.
“We thank the Korean parties on having this great event, and we also need to thank the Japanese Paralympic Committee and Japan Wheelchair Rugby Federation for their support,” Ikezaki said.
“We wish to express our great appreciations by getting the gold medal.”
Ikezaki and the Japanese team will be bitterly disappointed with anything less than gold but know they will have to work hard to get it.
“Our goal is to get the gold medal, and we will do everything we can do to achieve that goal,” he said.
“In the big events, like Incheon, we wish to demonstrate our power and to accomplish our maximum performance.”
The benefits that an event like this can bring for the sport in Asia are invaluable as the sport has never had so much exposure.
It also marks the first occasion that Malaysia and Indonesia will play in a world class event, which is huge progress for the development of wheelchair rugby in those nations.
“We are very proud to be participating in this historically important event. We wish to express the attractiveness of wheelchair rugby to the rest of the world, by which athlete participation into this sport will be increased,” Ikezaki said.
The sport appears to be in good hands for Japan as some of their developing players are in the squad in Incheon and will get court time during the event.
The full schedule for wheelchair rugby can be found HERE and scores will be updated daily once the competition begins on Sunday.