The Ariake Tennis Park is set to witness some exciting contests when the wheelchair tennis competition at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games begins from August 27, 2021.
Eighteen medals will be contested over nine days with the first gold medal to be decided on September 1, 2021.
Asia’s medal hopes will rest on hosts Japan who will fielding two dominant forces — seasoned stars Kunieda Shingo, two-time Paralympic and Indonesia 2018 Asian Para Games champion; Yui Kamiji, the current Wimbledon champion and Indonesia 2018 gold medallist. Both the players have been former Grand Slam title holders at the Australian, US and French Opens.
Their ominous form will be quite a threat to their opponents in both men’s and women’s (singles and doubles) categories and both the players, who are also Rio Paralympic bronze medallists, will be among the favourites in singles and doubles categories.
Shingo will also have Takashi Sanada, the Indonesia 2018 silver medallist, and Kohei Suzuki in the men’s side.
In women’s competition, Kamiji will be joined by Momoko Ohtani to strengthen the hosts’ campaign, while China’s Indonesia 2018 gold medallist in women’s doubles Huang Huimin and Zhu Zhenzhen would look to make their marks.
In the quad events, Indonesia 2018 gold medallists Kim Kyu-seung of South Korea and Japan’s Mitsuteru Moroishi should put up a strong challenge.
Wheelchair Tennis, which has now become one of the fastest growing wheelchair sports in the world, made it Paralympics debut at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Thailand will be hoping to emulate their successes of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the 2018 World Championships and the 2018 Indonesia Asian Para Games where they topped the medal table at all three events.
Worawut Saengampa is ranked world no 1 in the BC2 category and he was close to double gold at Rio 2016, where he helped put Thailand atop the podium in the team BC1-2 event.
In the individual BC2 gold medal match he was pipped to the gold medal by his veteran compatriot Watcharaphon Vongsa. Since then, however, the young athlete has won the individual world title in 2018 and added a gold at the Asian Para Games later that year to sit at No. 1 in the world.
Home nation hopes will be on their team captain, Hidetaka Sugimura. Ranked No. 2 behind the Thai athlete Saengampa, Sugimura led his side to a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Sugimura earned a bronze medal at the 2016 World Championships in Beijing, China, his first individual medal at an international competition. At the Worlds two years later, the Japanese star lost out to Saengampa in the semi-finals and so will be hoping for revenge at his home games.
Another hot prospect from Asia is Yuen Kei Ho from Hong Kong. She finished fifth in the BC3 class at her Paralympic debut in Rio and has since been a consistent podium finisher at international competitions. Ranked No. 2 in the world, she will be hoping to continue her podium finishes in Tokyo.
The Boccia competition will take place at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre from 28th August to 4th September.