World Para Athletics meet kicks off in Kobe

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan’s Kenya Karasawa, fourth from left, competes in the men’s T11 5,000 meters on the opening day of the World Para Athletics Championships on Friday in Kobe.

KOBE — Host Japan wasted little time in securing its first medal as the World Para Athletics Championships, which is serving as a qualifying meet for the Paris Paralympics for Japanese athletes, kicked off Friday in Kobe.

Tokyo Paralympic silver medalist Kenya Karasawa won the bronze medal in the men’s 5,000 meters in the T11 vision impairment classification in the morning session at Kobe Universiade Memorial Stadium with a victory in 15 minutes 3.25 seconds.

The meet, which was originally scheduled for 2021 but was postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic, is being held in East Asia for the first time. It will run through May 25.

Over 1,000 para-athletes from about 100 countries and regions are taking part in the competition that has 168 gold medals at stake, with Japan fielding its largest-ever squad with 66 competitors.

For Japan, competitors who finish in the top two in their event will earn tickets to the Paris Paralympics, in addition those who placed in the top four at last year’s championships held in Paris.