Highlighting JAPAN Vol.121 June 2018

High school students and volunteers taking care of athletes after the racewheelchair repairs, transports the athletes, and accompanies them to the doctor and on errands during the competition. Many others—such as local high school students and employees of sponsored companies who have undergone training—also assist. Most volunteers do the same type of job every year as they have gained expertise at both the work and assisting the athletes, and look forward to volunteering.cheer for the athletes, and welcome them warmly in all kinds of ways. If they find cracks in the road used for the racecourse, residents will even contact the city and prefecture because they know the wheelchair tires used on the racers puncture easily.The oldest competitor is 92 years old, and will be participating for the 37th time this year alongside three other senior athletes who have also raced every year. The event has raised a great deal of The residents of Oita also pick up roadside trash, This race is considered a gateway to success. interest, to the point of being broadcast across all of Oita Prefecture since the year before last, as well as being featured on a Japan-wide BS channel. There are plans for TV drama depicting Dr. Nakamura’s efforts to be broadcast this summer.The maximum speed of these racing wheelchairs is 40 kilometers per hour, with the top athlete speeding through the 42.195-kilometer course in 1 hour and 20 minutes. The moment when the competitors sprint from the starting line on November 18 of this year will be one of unmatched intensity. Scenes of athletes struggling uphill as spectators cheer encouragingly until the athletes rally and go on will be equally uplifting. Local people consider the race “Oita’s treasure.” In 2020, they will celebrate the event’s fortieth anniversary. In this place that pioneered sports for disabled athletes in Japan, the history, pride and hospitality of the people will live on. 21

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