Swimmer Kimura adds to medal haul on banner day for Japan at Rio Paralympics


Japan won five medals on Wednesday at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, with three silver and two bronze added to its tally, but the search for gold continues with just four days of competition remaining.

Swimmer Keiichi Kimura confirmed himself as Japan’s star of the 2016 Paralympics, winning his third medal of the Games and second silver when he finished second in the men’s S11 100-meter butterfly, 0.19 seconds behind Spanish winner Israel Oliver.

“I was counting on the gold, it was really unfortunate. It was really disappointing. Maybe I’ll regret this until I die,” said Kimura, a 26-year-old who suffers from a visual impairment.

“I realized that I was really close to the others because my hand touched the hand of the other swimmer (next to me).”

Kimura is the only Japanese athlete to win more than one medal at the Rio 2016 Games, and he has two more chances to win that elusive gold when he lines up in the men’s 200m SM11 individual medley and S11 100m freestyle in the next two days.

Japan failed to win any cycling medals at the recent Olympic Games, but on Wednesday the country’s Paralympians managed to win two, both in road time trial events.

Masaki Fujita won a Paralympic medal at his third consecutive Games, the Rio silver taking his overall tally to two silver and two bronze medals, when he finished second in the men’s C3 time trial. The 31-year-old who lives in Tsuchiura, Ibaraki Prefecture, crossed the line approximately one minute behind the gold medalist, Eoghan Clifford from Ireland.

Yurie Kanuma, 35, and her guide Mai Tanaka cycled to silver in the women’s time trial for visually impaired athletes, the 2014 road time trial world champion winning a medal on her Paralympic debut.

Kanuma also competed in track events in Rio, with a fifth in the 1,000m time trial her best result and she has the women’s road race to come.

Wheelchair tennis star and second seed Yui Kamiji got over her semifinal disappointment to take bronze — her and Japan’s first women’s Paralympic wheelchair tennis medal — by beating Diede de Groot of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-3.

“Forty percent I’m happy, but 60 percent I’m disappointed. My goal is a gold medal, so I haven’t achieved it yet,” said the two-time singles Grand Slam champion.

“I was very good, very confident and very focused. I was feeling calm, not thinking, ‘Oh, I need to get a medal.’ I wasn’t feeling the pressure and that’s why I was very good.”

“I really want to be a good player because this time I played on center court and so many Japanese people watched my game here. Four years later in Tokyo, I am going to be a very good player and more Japanese people are going to watch me.”

Amputee Sae Tsuji won a track bronze for Japan, running 1:00.62 in the women’s 400 T47 event.

In the first day of wheelchair rugby, one of the most spectacular and high-profile sports at the Paralympics, Japan got a win, beating Sweden 50-46.

Japan was led by Shinichi Shimakawa and captain Yukinobu Ike who scored 14 goals each, but the team was able to hold onto a buffer established quite early in the first half, so it was never seriously threatened.

Japan sits in second in Group B, behind the United States on goal difference, but ahead of day-one losers Sweden and France. The big matchup with the U.S. team, winners of two of the four Paralympic wheelchair rugby tournaments held since 2000, is scheduled for Friday.

Zanardi victorious


Former Formula One driver Alex Zanardi won his third Paralympic gold medal on Wednesday, a day before the 15th anniversary of the Champ Car crash that cost the Italian both legs and nearly his life.

The 49-year-old won the 20-km H5 hand-cycling road time trial in Rio de Janeiro to add to the two golds he won on his Paralympics debut in London four years ago.

“Normally I don’t thank God for these type of things as I believe God has more important stuff to worry about,” he told NBC television. “But today is too much. I had to raise my eyes and thank him. “I feel very lucky, I feel my life is a never-ending privilege.”

Zanardi, a two time champion in the U.S.-based Champ Car series that is now IndyCar, competed in 41 grands prix between 1991 and 1999 with his final season at Williams.

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