POSTED: July 12th 2009
InDepth

Taguchi has another dream . . . for Tokyo 2016

Aki Taguchi: In Berlin - and in action / Tokyo2016
Aki Taguchi: In Berlin - and in action / Tokyo2016


KEIR RADNEDGE / Sports Features Communications

LONDON/BERLIN: Aki Taguchi has another dream. Her first was to compete alongside the rest of the Olympic family which she achieved in 2004 and again in 2008. Her next dream is to compete again in her native Tokyo in 2016.

But what is extra-special about 38-year-old Taguchi is that she has been confined to a wheelchair since illness in 1997. Hence her Olympic experience is through the Paralympics and her 2016 ambition is inextricably linked with Tokyo’s bid to win hosting rights.

The International Olympic Committee decides, for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, on October 2 in Copenhagen between the rival claims of Chicago, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo . . . and Taguchi has no doubt that Paralympians would find Tokyo an ideal choice.

Her own journey began with the illness in 1997 which placed her in a wheelchair. She was 26 and, before then, had played tennis, albeit for enjoyment rather than competition. She feared that sports opportunities has gone.

Then, the following year, Taguchi was spellbound to follow, via television, the Winter Paralympic Games in Nagano, Japan. She said: “I had been very ill and I was very sad. Then I watched the Paralympics for the first time and I shared in all the excitement and enjoyment. I was surprised by them; I had no idea. So then I realised I could have a dream after all.”

Fulfilment

That dream was fulfilled twice over when Taguchi finished seventh in the shooting event at the Paralympics in Athens and eighth in Beijing. The new dream is to compete in 2016 . . . in Tokyo.

That ambition has just taken her to Berlin as a member of the Tokyo 2016 delegation attending the Fourth International Paralympic Day.

Taguchi said: “Tokyo would be right for the Paralympics because sometimes we have a lot of stress in travelling to the venue from the Olympic Village but the Tokyo project is so compact that will not be a problem. Also, because people with disabilities can use the public transport system so easily it would also be easily for the Paralympic athletes to go out and enjoy all the opportunities that the city has to offer.”

Tokyo’s proposals incorporate the city government’s project to create a 100pc barrier-free urban environment.

Other members of the Tokyo 2016 team in Berlin were Kosh- Nemoto (director for strategic planning, Kunio Nakamori (technical director of Paralympic sports and secretary-general of the Japan Paralympic Committee), Maki Kaneko (deputy director of international promotion bid relations) and the JPC deputy manager of performance development Shinji Nakamae.

Picture (above right): Aki Taguchu meets German President Horst Kohler / Tokyo2016


Keywords · 2016 Olympic Games · IOC · Aki Taguchi · Paralympics


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