Skip to main content

Paralympic Medalist Shinya Wada Runs 3-Minute Half Marathon Best: "I Have to Believe in My Potential"

http://www.sankei.com/smp/west/news/170126/wst1701260031-s1.html

translated and edited by Brett Larner

2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics marathoner and 2012 London Paralympics bronze medalist Shinya Wada, 39, ran in the Jan. 29 Osaka Half Marathon that was held at the same time as the Osaka International Women's Marathon.  With the Tokyo Olympics coming onto the horizon just three years distant his goal was to take his 1:14:29 half marathon best down to the 1:10 level.

At December's Fukuoka International Marathon Wada ran 2:32:11, breaking his own T11 category (fully blind) Japanese national record by 1:35.  Wada also holds the T11 national records on the track for 800 m, 1500 m, 5000 m and 10000 m.  At the London Paralympics he won bronze in the 5000 m. In Rio he finished in the top eight in the 1500 m, the 5000 m, and, in the T12 category (use of a guide runner optional), the marathon.  Despite such success, Wada feels pressure.  "Athletes from other countries keep producing better and better times," he said.  "Next time in Tokyo they'll be even better, and there will be new athletes too."

A passionate rugby player in his youth, Wada was diagnosed with a progressive retinal degeneration disorder while at Ikuno High School and lost his sight entirely his third year at Kansai University.  When he was 28 a friend introduced to him to the Kamogawa Partners visually impaired running team in Kyoto, a moment that marked his beginning of his career in athletics. Initially his goal was simply to overcome a lack of exercise, but his talent was soon revealed and by 2009 he had been designated a high-potential developmental athlete by the Japan Blind Marathon Association.  He currently works in the Osaka Prefectural Blind and Social Welfare Association's braille library in Osaka's Tennoji ward, working on braille transcription and transliteration while spending his free time refining running that seems unaffected by his age.

This year marked Wada's third time running the Osaka Half, back after a two-year absence.  Building toward April's 2017 World Para-Athletics Marathon World Cup in London, he set his target time at 1:10.  Falling just short of that mark, he took nearly three minutes off his PB with an official time of 1:11:37. "When I lost my eyesight I never imagined that I'd be able to run," he said. "Being able to move like this helps me feel better.  "I hope that my running can be the trigger to do something positive for anyone whose spirit has been broken by the loss of their sight."

Wada's future goals include the T11 marathon world record of 2:31:59 and making the Tokyo Paralympics team three years from now.  "I have to believe in my potential and take on my dreams," he said.  "I want today's me to be better than yesterday's me, and tomorrow's me better still. To definitively overcome my past.  For that to happen I have to make a great leap forward over the next year or two."

Comments

Most-Read This Week

Kawauchi Takes Six Minutes Off Kitakyushu Marathon Course Record to Lead Weekend Results

After a seven-week break from the marathon, Yuki Kawauchi (Saitama Pref. Gov't) scored his third-straight marathon win, second-straight course record and came just shy of a third-straight negative split as he ran a completely solo 2:11:46 to take almost six minutes off the Kitakyushu Marathon course record. Following up on negative split wins at December's Hofu Yomiuri Marathon and January's Marshfield New Year's Day Marathon, the latter a course record by half an hour, Kawauchi was on his own in the first 100 m in Kitakyushu and never looked back.

In the hilly first 10 km his pace fluctuated from high-2:12 to high-2:10, but once Kawauchi got into the flatter section of the course he settled out on track for a high-2:11 to low-2:12 time. After a 1:05:51 split at halfway he slowed slightly on the outbound trip to the turnaround near 31 km, but picking it up again after 35 km he marked a 6:34 from 40 km to the finish to stop the clock at 2:11:46,  a 1:05:55 second half …

Kipsang Talking Loud and Aga Mumbling Bold - Tokyo Marathon Preview

After stepping up to the big leagues last year with course records in the 2:03 and 2:19 range, the Tokyo Marathon hopes to go one better this year. Men's course record setter Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) is back, stepping up from a 2:03:50 prediction for Tokyo in January to a 2:02:50 world record prediction at Friday's pre-race press conference. In the unmentioned absence of women's course record breaker Sarah Chepchirchir the top-ranked woman is Ruti Aga (Ethiopia), coming in hot off a 1:06:39 win last month in Houston and turning heads at the press conference with a boldly mumbled 2:18:00 prediction.

Management for both Kipsang and Aga were skeptical to JRN of their athletes' predictions, people from each camp saying times two minutes slower would be more likely, one minute slower in a best-case scenario. But whatever the prediction, Kipsang was clear to fellow past champs Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) and Dickson Chumba (Kenya) about one thing: he wants a more conservative fi…

Kenyans Kabuu, Jemeli and Cheyech Lead Nagoya Women's Marathon Field

The Nagoya Women's Marathon is the largest women-only marathon in the world, one with a long history as an elite race and adapting to the times with a mass-participation field of 20,000. The last few years it has seen a series of dynamic, high-level performances by top Japanese women, from Sairi Maeda's 2:22:48 in 2015 to the 2:23:19 to 2:23:20 sprint finish battle between Tomomi Tanaka and Rei Ohara in 2016 to Yuka Ando's stellar 2:21:36 debut and teammate Mao Kiyota's 2:23:47 breakthrough last year.

Maeda, Ohara and Kiyota all return this year to face the Kenyan trio of Lucy Kabuu, Valary Jemeli and Flomena Cheyech Daniel. Kabuu went to high school in Japan before moving on to the big leagues, but she hasn't finished a marathon since her 2:20:21 in Dubai 2015. Cheyech also used to be based in Japan as is a familiar face here, winning the last two Saitama International Marathons. Jemeli is making her Japanese debut, and with a 2:21:57 win in Prague and a 2:20:53 …