Disabled man organizes handcycling marathon in Japan

Updated: 2006-10-25 11:41

A physically disabled Japanese man is organizing a handcycling marathon with a distance of 1,200 kilometers in Japan, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old organizer, Akira Nagano, will also take part in the event named TE-DE Marathon 2008 (Te-De means "by hand" in Japanese). The event is to be held over 10 days in October 2008, starting in Tokyo, and finishing in Fukuoka of southern Japan.

A handcycle, powered by the "hand-pedaling" the handlebars, is made by attaching the front half of a bicycle. Handcycling made its debut as a competitive sport at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens.

According to the report, there are a few hundred handcyclists in Japan. However, in Europe and North America, the handcycle is widely used as an alternative to the wheelchair, and there are even models being developed specifically for sporting events.

Nagano, disabled by cerebral palsy when he was a baby, launched a group of disabled wrestlers called FORCE in his hometown of Fukuoka.

"Disabled people are often thought of as being weak people, but I want people to see that we are not weak at all," Nagano said.

Speaking of the determination to hold the marathon, Nagano said: "I want to encourage other people with illnesses or disabilities. I'm also hoping to recruit other people to come with me on the journey."

Nagano said riding a handcycle feels like "sprinting on a bicycle." "I want everyone to know how great it is to ride a handcycle. I also hope to bring people's attention to the need for barrier-free towns and cities."