Japan announces delegation for Rio 2016

Photo: London 2012

Japan have revealed a team of 127 athletes who will represent the country at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. The team won 16 medals in London, five of them gold, down on their total from 2008, but with the same number of gold medals.

There are two World Champions in the squad, Masaki Fujita (cycling), and Keiichi Kimura (swimming), both looking to upgrade their medal colors from 2012. The strong wheelchair tennis team of Shingo Kunieda and Yui Kamiji will also appear along with the defending Goalball Paralympic champions.

Fujita won bronze in the C3 time trial in 2012 and will be looking to upgrade that to gold in Rio, coming in to the Paralympics in form. He claimed the Asian Title in the event earlier in 2016 but couldn’t win the world title coming fifth in the event but winning the road race.

Wheelchair Tennis represents a phenomenal opportunity for gold for Japan with Kunieda the defending champion in Men’s Singles. Kunieda has dropped down to seventh in the world after a year dogged by injuries but has supposedly recovered and could well be dangerous in Rio.

After the retirement of the Dutch legend Esther Vergeer following the 2012 Paralympic Games, the door has opened for a new Paralympic Champion. Kamiji currently sits second in the world ranking surrounded by two more Dutch athletes.

Kimura comes in with a strong hope of a gold medal in the S11/SB11 categories in the pool in Rio after a silver in London. Kimura won the world championship in the 100m breaststroke and 100m butterfly in 2015, Kimura enters his third Paralympics with a strong shot of winning his first gold.

Four of the players on the six woman goalball squad are returning from their victory in London four years ago. Since London Japan have not faired so well as they had a disappointing result in the 2014 World Championship, losing to Turkey in the bronze medal match and finishing fourth.

Japan will be competing in 17 sports, missing very few as they will look for a strong medal tally in Rio in 2016.


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