She has been in the sports arena since she was a young girl. Though her life was turned around after she was paralyzed, her love for sports did not waver. And today, she is one wheelchair fencer that inspires everyone across the globe.
Anri Sakurai, a 26-year-old athlete, has been actively participating in sports since her primary school days. She even landed fifth place in the Kyoto Prefecture qualifying round of the All-Japan High School Ekiden Championship. Since then, Anri continued in her athletic career and enjoyed everything in the sports arena.
However, when Anri was 20 years old and studying at a vocational school, something unexpected happened. She woke up one morning realizing she could not move both of her legs. Her parents rushed her to the hospital to figure why.
After assessing her condition and looking at her test results, doctors confirmed that it was a hernia of a lumbar disc. She was then advised to undergo surgical procedure. But even after the successful operation, Anri remained paralyzed from the waist down.
Anri was greatly saddened of the outcome but her family and friends did not give up on her. They all helped her and supported through her daily therapies and rehabilitation sessions.
Touched by their compassion, Anri realized she should not give up. She even asked herself what she can do to live for the people who love her and support her. And that’s when her love for sports came back.
Anri was first exposed to wheelchair fencing when she was an employee at a sporting goods manufacturer in Kyoto. One fateful day, the secretary general of Japan Wheelchair Fencing Association based in Japan, Kanoko Harada, came into the store. He then met Anri and had a meaningful conversation with the young girl. Seeing her love for sports, Harada invited Anri to try wheelchair fencing.
It was Anri’s first time to learn about wheelchair fencing. She had no knowledge about the rules and how such sport is played but while watching the athletes practice, she fell in love with the sport. And soon after that, she picked a sword for the first time and began her training.
Today, the 26-year-old Anri is already known in this field. She is even set to debut at the IWAS (International Wheelchair and Amputee Sports Federation) Wheelchair Fencing World Cup that will be held in Poland.
Anri, who showed her motivation, determination and perseverance, stated that her disability should not hinder her. Instead, she should be living her life by doing the things she loves. She is indeed an inspiration to all.