Matsushita’s Love for Running Pays Off, Japan Wrest the Overall Lead

BUKIT JALIL – Although visually impaired, Japanese track athlete Matsushita Yoshiki realised he loved running. And he wanted to run very fast. Today, Matsushita found just how fast he was when he bagged the 200metre Youth T11 gold medal in the athletics competition of the Asian Youth Para Games.

For 17-year-old Matsushita today’s gold was his second for Japan and he was absolutely thrilled with his achievement here. “I certainly made the right decision when I gave up playing ground soft ball for running,” said Matsushita, who won 100m Youth T11 race yesterday.

According to Matsushita, ground soft ball is popular in Japan but he always felt the desire to run faster. “While I was playing, I realise that I wanted to run faster, that’s when I decided to track and field team.”

To represent his country, he trained up two three times a week and he is happy his efforts have paid off. Due to his impaired vision, Matsushita needs to run with guide. “Communication with my guide is very important. To overcome this I spend time together with my guide. After training, we go out together to improve our communication,” said Matsushita who aspires to qualify for the Rio Paralympics in 2016.

Matsushita’s gold medal today was among four gold medals Japan won in the athletics event at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. Japan also picked up three more wins in swimming for a haul of seven gold medals today which was enough to take them to the top of the medals tally with 17 golds after three days of competition.

While Japan stormed to the overall lead, Malaysia dropped to third despite winning two more gold medals today. Malaysia’s tally stands at 13 golds medals while Iran is second with 16 gold medals.

Malaysia won the gold medals through Afiq Afifi Riza (boys’ 200m T12) and Nor Syafiqah Shamsudin (girls’ shot putt F12).

Malaysian coach Asrul Abdul Rashid said he was pleased with the performance of his athletes. “They fared well today and I am certain they will continue to deliver tomorrow which is the last day of the athletics programme.”

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