The Electric Unit that Gave Me the Power to Step Forward
Mr. Hidetaka Sugimura (Shizuoka Prefecture)
In his third grade of high school in 2000, Mr. Hidetaka Sugimura came across and became captivated by a sport, Boccia. Mr. Sugimura, the world’s 7th* ranked Boccia player, has achieved a number of good results in domestic and international competitions, but he thinks he could not have come this far without his wheelchair being equipped with the wheelchair electric power unit “JWX-1.”
(*) BISFed World Ranking in BC 2 class (athletes who have cerebral palsy, etc.) as of December 2016
To become Stronger and Play Better
Boccia is a sport where two teams, Team Red and Team Blue, compete by each throwing six balls in their team color alternately at a white target ball called the jack ball and the team that has a ball closest to the target ball wins. The rules are simple, but the players use various techniques such as accessing, pushing, flipping and placing balls. Even a single throw could change the game so dramatically that you cannot know which team wins until the last throw. I’m really happy when I constantly read the opponent’s next two or three moves and lead the game as I planned to victory. That’s the moment I feel the depth and fun of Boccia.
In the team competition in the London 2012 Paralympics, I got 7th place. In the team competition in the Rio 2016 Paralympics, I finally won Japan’s first silver medal. To make my throwing more stable, I have been focusing on enhancing my physical strength, such as improving my muscular strength by changing my electric wheelchair to a manual one and by doing a workout with rubber tubes. To achieve higher results than the silver medal in the Rio Games, I’ve got an opportunity to try the settings on my wheelchair with the assistance of Yamaha.
I came across Yamaha’s wheelchair electric power unit in my third year of high school, which was almost the same time I learned how to play Boccia. Until then, I had been using a manual wheelchair or crutches, but I thought I would need an electric wheelchair to go to work after graduating from high school. Yamaha’s wheelchair electric power unit can be fitted to my wheelchair so easily that it is also easy to put my wheelchair on a car unlike typical large electric wheelchairs. I found this electric unit ideal and attractive for my lifestyle.
For physically handicapped people, some things may be impossible or difficult to do because of their disability. Under such circumstances, Boccia gave me an opportunity to step out into society and “JWX-1” is now helping me as a means of mobility. This electric unit seems like a part of my body and is indispensable not just in my daily life, but also in Boccia games.
To make Boccia more Popular
Boccia is commonly regarded as a sport for people with disabilities, but it is actually a sport that anyone can enjoy whether they have disability or not regardless of their age. If people come to feel a sense of affinity to Boccia and it becomes more popular as a national sport, I would be very happy and this would encourage other players too. To promote Boccia so that everyone becomes aware of it, I want to be even stronger.
With support from Yamaha, I was given an opportunity to try various settings on my wheelchair. I have learned how to adjust my wheelchair to get the best performance and stable throwing by lowering the center of gravity of the wheelchair and trying several wheels with different tire pressures. I think analyzing and sharing the data obtained here will eventually lead to improving and enhancing the competitive skills of Japanese Boccia players.
PICK UP !
- "Wheelchair Electric Power Unit"
- Yamaha started developing electric wheelchairs in 1989 and released its first commercialized wheelchair electric power unit “JW-I” in 1995. After a series of improvements to the electric unit, which integrates lightness and mobility of manual wheelchairs into the high power and roadability of electric wheelchairs, Yamaha finally launched “JWX-1" and "JWX-1 PLUS+" in 2006 and in 2015, respectively. This was done by using a high level of technology to motorize customers’ manual wheelchairs. These models are now being supported by many users.
* Mr. Sugimura uses the JWX-1 model.
A Message from a Yamaha Staff Member
Finding out “the best feel” of the top player
Hiroyuki Mizutani JW Engineering Group, JW Wheelchairs Division, Smart Power Vehicle Business Unit
I knew that many Japanese Boccia players have been using our wheelchair electric power unit in competitions. Now I’m in charge of supporting Mr. Sugimura, who is the captain of Japan’s national team as well as a leading Boccia player in Japan. I’m trying various settings on his wheelchair to find out the best feel not only by doing image analyses on his body and wheelchair movements before and after throwing, but also asking him how he feels about each setting. My hope is to share the results obtained here with other Boccia players to contribute to the improvement of Paralympic sports in the future.