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Japanese female Para triathlete Wakako Tsuchida punches the air as she crosses the finish line

Wakako Tsuchida

Triathlon | Athletics | Ice Sledge Racing
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Two-time Asian champion Wakako Tsuchida had a stellar 2018 season and appears on target to star in her home Paralympic Games at Tokyo 2020. She was a minute shy of gold at the 2018 World Triathlon Grand Final in Gold Coast, Australia. But with more training, she might give her home crowd in Tokyo reason to rejoice.

This year alone, Tsuchida won the Asian Championship title as well as the Tokyo World Cup, which acted as a Test Event for the 2020 Paralympics. She finished runner-up at the World Para Triathlon Series in Montreal, Canada, behind Australia’s Emily Tapp – the very person to oust her for the world title last September. 

The Japanese athlete reached the podium in every competition she raced in 2018, which was her first complete season in the sport. A medal at Gold Coast 2018 made up for her ‘Did Not Start’ at the 2017 edition.

Tsuchida does have experience on her side. She has competed at both Summer and Winter Paralympics, as well as World Major Marathons. She captured three Paralympic medals in wheelchair racing, including gold in the 5,000m T54 at Athens 2004. She also competed in ice sledge speed skating, winning two titles at her home Games in Nagano 1998.

Tsuchida lost both legs above the knee due to a traffic accident in 1992 and began playing Para sports during her rehabilitation.

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Spinal Cord Injuries
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
T54

Further personal information

Family
Son Yoshimasa
Languages
Japanese

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She took up Para athletics in 1996.
Why this sport?
She previously competed in ice sledge speed racing. After ice sledge speed racing was removed from the Paralympic programme following the 1998 Paralympic Winter Games in Nagano, she decided to switch her focus to athletics.
Club / Team
Yachiyo Industry : Japan

General interest

Nicknames
Wako (Athlete, 16 Jul 2013)
Most influential person in career
Her family. (nikkei.com, 29 Feb 2016)
Hero / Idol
Her mother. (Athlete, 16 Jul 2013)
Injuries
She sustained an injury to her waist area during the 5000m at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. She had to withdraw from the marathon in Beijing and required two months to recover. (mainichi.jp, 07 Jul 2015; paralympic.org, 08 Apr 2021)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"There was a time I tried too hard and it felt like I was making fruitless efforts. I realised that being my usual self is the key to performing at my best. It's not easy, though, because athletes tend to push themselves to the limit." (paralympic.org, 08 Apr 2021)
Awards and honours
She has received the Prime Minister's Award in Japan during her career. (Athlete, 24 Jan 2011)
Other sports
She won two gold medals in ice sledge speed racing at the 1998 Paralympic Winter Games in Nagano. She has also represented Japan in Para triathlon, and won a silver medal at the 2018 World Championships in Gold Coast, QLD, Australia. (SportsDeskOnline, 08 Jan 2021; city.yokohama.jp, 18 Jul 2017; paraphoto.org, 22 Jun 2017; mainichi.jp, 07 Jul 2015)
Milestones
At the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens she became the first athlete from Japan to win gold medals at both the summer and winter Paralympic Games. She claimed gold in the 5000m wheelchair race in Athens, six years after capturing gold medals in the 1000m and 1500m ice sledge speed racing events at the 1998 Paralympic Winter Games in Nagano. (boston.com, 20 Apr 2009)
Ambitions
To compete in both athletics and triathlon at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (paralympic.org, 08 Apr 2021)
Impairment
Her impairment is the result of a traffic accident in 1992. (mainichi.jp, 07 Jul 2015; cyclowired.jp, 14 Feb 2014)
Other information
TRIATHLON AND ATHLETICS
After the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she switched from athletics to triathlon after developing exercise-induced asthma. She went on to win a silver medal at the 2018 Para Triathlon World Championships in Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, and set herself the goal of competing in both athletics and triathlon at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. "I didn't have much experience in swimming so at first, I was afraid and it [triathlon] was difficult. I just kept practising in seawater. Swimming is very good for maintaining a healthy body, and I no longer suffered from asthma. I was able to compete in athletics again. I hope to participate in both the triathlon and the marathon at the Tokyo 2020 Games. I'll train hard to secure a place in those events and make a mark at the Paralympic Games." In July 2021 she was offered a bipartite allocation place from World Triathlon to compete in the sport in Tokyo. (paralympic.org, 08 Apr 2021; insidethegames.biz, 06 Jul 2021)

Results

Unit Date Rank
Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games (Sydney, Australia)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 800 m T54 Heat 1 3
Women's 800 m T54 Final Round 9999
Women's 1500 m T54 Heat 1 3
Women's 1500 m T54 Final Round 6
Women's 5000 m T54 Final Round 4
Women's Marathon T54 Final Round 3
Athens 2004 Paralympic Games (Athens, Greece)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Marathon T54 Final Round 2
Women's 5000 m T54 Final Round 1
Women's 5000 m T54 Heat 1 1
Lillehammer 1994 Paralympic Winter Games (Lillehammer, Norway)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m LW10-11 Final Round 5
Women's 500 m LW10-11 Final Round 5
Women's 700 m LW10-11 Final Round 5
Women's 1000 m LW10-11 Final Round 6
Nagano 1998 Paralympic Winter Games (Nagano, Japan)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 100 m LW11 Final Round 2
Women's 500 m LW11 Final Round 2
Women's 1000 m LW11 Final Round 1
Women's 1500 m LW11 Final Round 1
IPC Athletics World Championships Villeneuve d'Ascq 2002 (Villeneuve d'Ascq, France)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 5000 m T54 Final Round 4
Women's 800 m T54 Heat 1 2
Women's 800 m T54 Final Round 8
Women's 1500 m T54 Heat 1 4
Women's 1500 m T54 Final Round 4
2011 IPC Athletics World Championships (Christchurch, New Zealand)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 5000 m T53/54 Final 2011-01-22 4
Women's 1500 m T53/54 Heat 2 2011-01-26 3
Women's 1500 m T53/54 Final 2011-01-28 3
Women's Marathon T53/54 Final 2011-01-30 1
London 2012 Paralympic Games (London, Great Britain)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 5000 m T54 Heat 2 2012-08-31 3
Women's 5000 m T54 Final Round 2012-09-02 6
Women's Marathon T54 Final Round 2012-09-09 5
IPC Athletics World Championships (Lyon, France)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's 5000 m T54 Semifinal 1 2013-07-20 9
Women's 5000 m T54 Final 1 2013-07-21 6
Women's 1500 m T54 Semifinal 2 2013-07-24 9
Women's 1500 m T54 Final 1 2013-07-25 2
Women's Marathon T54 Final 1 2013-07-28 1
Rio 2016 Paralympic Games (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Event Medal Unit Date Rank
Women's Marathon T54 Final Round 2016-09-18 4