Gold medalist Michishita collects Para-Sports’ grand prize

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Misato Michishita speaks to The Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Gold medalist Misato Michishita, who won the visually impaired T12 category of the women’s marathon at the Tokyo Paralympic Games in September, has won the grand prize at the Japan Para-Sports Awards, it was announced by the selection committee at The Yomiuri Shimbun headquarters in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Wednesday.

The annual awards were established by The Yomiuri Shimbun to honor major achievements of athletes and teams competing at domestic and international events for disabled athletes.

For her efforts the 44-year-old runner will receive ¥2 million, and the Japan Blind Marathon Association will be awarded ¥3 million.

The selection committee gave the excellence awards to Hidetaka Sugimura, 39, who won the boccia individual BC2 — a class for athletes with cerebral palsy — and para cyclist Keiko Sugiura, who at 50 captured two gold medals and became the oldest Japanese gold medalist in Paralympics history. Japan’s men’s wheelchair basketball team, which won silver, also received the award.

Wheelchair tennis star Shingo Kunieda, 37, who won gold and was captain of the Japanese team, received the Tokyo Paralympics special award. Miyuki Yamada, who became the youngest Japanese medalist in the Paralympic history at 15 when she finished second in the women’s 100-meter backstroke S2, won the new face award.

Upon receiving the grand prize, Michishita expressed her determination to continue promoting sports for the disabled as a leading figure in her field.

“I really appreciate the award. I think the Tokyo Games has led to a deeper understanding of the sports, and made it easier for those with disabilities to play sports. I would like to continue my promotion efforts with enthusiasm,” she said.

Compared to when she competed in Rio de Janeiro, where she won silver, Michishita thinks she became mentally stronger. “I was worried when the Games was postponed and when it was uncertain whether the event would be held. But I was encouraged by my fellow athletes and friends who were cheerful.”

Though she is busy with lectures and events, Michishita never misses training and will compete in the Hofu Yomiuri Marathon on Dec. 19.

“Since my training has been going really well, I think I can improve my record,” said Michishita, whose goal is to break her own world record of a 2:54:13.