When Olympians and Paralympians showcase their incredible skill, what does it look like from their point of view? Many people probably wonder as they watch in awe as their favourite athletes compete for the biggest prizes. Tokyo 2020 introduces ‘Let’s 55 Virtual Experience’, a project that provides an innovative experience of what it actually looks like to compete as a top-level athlete, covering all 55 sports on the Tokyo 2020 Games programme.
OKAZAKI Aiko is a Para archer who will compete at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Why not join her for a virtual experience of Para archery as seen from her eyes? Okazaki also shares with us her views on the attractions of Para archery, key points to watch, and her aspirations for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Games.
See me through to the last shot
"In Para archery, players are allowed to modify their tools in accordance with the extent of their impairments. Some players shoot arrows using their mouth or feet. In my case, as I have paralysis in my abdominal and back muscles, I fixate my shoulders and legs with belts to maintain a stable posture. Such ingenuity to complement our impairments is what makes Para archery intriguing. Depending on the flow of the competition, each player’s psychological stress level fluctuates with each shot, so it’s also interesting to watch their tactics against other players and the intense atmosphere."
"I took up Para archery as an adult, so I am almost self-taught. To get a grip on the flow of the movements, I watched videos of top players repeatedly and imitated their form of shooting by pulling a stretch band. Archery matches are held even when it is windy or rainy. You gain confidence when you hit the centre despite the bad weather conditions. Dealing with such difficult situations makes the sport even more enjoyable. People often tell me that I am tough in the face of a make-or-break situation, and I consider myself to be highly focussed, so even if I were losing in points, I have confidence in my ability to [get that] last shot and stay in the competition through to the end.
"The Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games have been postponed for a year and all the scheduled competitions and training camps have been cancelled. It has been rather difficult to keep practising amid this situation, but I knew that ongoing practice would lead to results, so I am doing what I can to prepare for Tokyo 2020. I hope that the Games will serve as a kind of a light that shines to restore people’s normal lives."