This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This line from the Special Olympics athlete oath has never been so apt in the case of the athletes from SO Nippon, some of whom have been affected by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. SO Nippon shares with us three stories of spirit and resilience.

Aimi Obara (Tennis)
Caregiver at nursing-care facility for elderly

19 year old Aimi is from Miyagi prefecture, where the quake hit severely on March 11. When the quake happened, Aimi was away with her twin sister. She returned to find her home destroyed, and her family moved into an apartment.

Most of her community have lost family members and homes, and still live in escape facilities without jobs. After discussing with her family and coach, Aimi decided to continue on in the World Games and concentrate fully on her training. The tennis courts she used to practice on have been damaged. Her coaches, who also have been affected by the quake, still devote time to Aimi, training a few times weekly after work.

Aimi and her mother feel blessed by the support, and have faith Aimi will do well in the Games.

Megumi Murayama (Bowling)
Caretaker at preschool

29 year old Megumi has not been affected by the quake, however she remains committed to her training as this is the first time she will participate, after being involved with Special Olympics Nippon for 9 years.

At the last World Games in Shanghai, Megumi was on the reserve bowling team. She is thrilled to make the main squad for Athens in June, and is looking forward to the experience, even though she admits she will miss her family.

Megumi’s training includes practice a few times weekly, with additional walks to build body strength.  She works as a caretaker for a preschool taking care of children, and has enormous affection for her charges.

Naoya Tanahashi (Athletics)
Restaurant helper

19 year old Naoya’s training has been disrupted, first by the winter, and then the earthquake. His house survived the quake, but the restaurant he works for suffered serious damage. To serve his neighborhood, Naoya with his restaurant crew opened within days after the earthquake. Some workers left to help their own families, leaving the restaurant shorthanded as well.

With Naoya working full time, the only training he has is a daily 40 minute bicycle ride to the restaurant.

By the time he resumed training in April at Special Olympics Nippon’s training camp in Tokyo, he found it difficult to adjust, as he had not trained for 6 months. He felt frustrated not to be at his peak level, as he was at the SO Nippon National Games in 2010.

Despite this setback, Naoya remains hopeful and optimistic about the Games: “I don’t want to lose this great opportunity. I will do my best at the World Games. Before it, I will practice as much as I can.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s