“Some people in Japan don’t even realise that shooting exists as a sport let alone a Paralympic sport. It’s important to explain to these people that shooting is not a dangerous sport and it’s actually very enjoyable for spectators”
With the Paralympic year underway the hype around Rio 2016 has gone into overdrive, but Japanese shooters Izumi Takehi and Toshio Moriwaki remain focused on competing at their home Paralympic Games in 2020.
As Japan is next in line to host the Summer Paralympic Games, Takehi and Moriwaki are jumping at every opportunity to compete on the international stage to ensure they are well groomed in time for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“I will gladly welcome everyone to Japan who is coming from all over the world. I hope they have a fantastic and pleasant time and enjoy our hospitality. Most importantly, I would love to make it a successful Games for both myself and my country” said Takehi.
At age 51, Takehi is the more seasoned shooter of the two athletes with a history on the IPC shooting circuit that spans over a decade long. Moriwaki is a relative newcomer to the sport and will be looking to gain plenty of exposure and experience as part of his bigger plans for Tokyo.
“My best result so far is a top twelve finish at the 2015 IPC Shooting World Cup in Stoke Mandeville [Great Britain]. I am determined to achieve better. After altering my full-time work commitments, I can now dedicate more time to training to help me improve” said Moriwaki.
The popularity of shooting continues to grow in Japan with the national team expected increase to over twenty athletes ahead of 2020. With senior role models of the sport like Moriwaki and Takehi, Japan certainly has the foundations for building a solid team of shooters. Also with the amount of publicity and exposure surrounding the Paralympic Games, Japan definitely has the capacity and capability to build their presence in the sport as a future host nation.
“There has been coverage about the Tokyo Games everyday on the news here in Japan,” Moriwaki said. “I’m always advocating the sport to my friends and constantly telling people about my ambitions in shooting. Just recently I was hired by a company as an athlete to promote the sport.”
“Some people in Japan don’t even realise that shooting exists as a sport let alone a Paralympic sport. It’s important to explain to these people that shooting is not a dangerous sport and it’s actually very enjoyable for spectators” explained Takehi.
With funding and other resources in place for the imminent host nation, Japan will have a great opportunity to further enhance their recruitment, training and development programmes for local athletes.
“Our core training strategy has been improving over the last few years, but there is still a lot more that needs to be done” said Takehi.
“The national programme provides us with mental training and technical matters and so on,” Moriwaki said. “I am looking forward to seeing how things progress.”
The IPC Shooting calendar continues with a World Cup in Bangkok, Thailand, between 15-18 March.
Live results will be available at IPC Shooting’s website.