TOKYO -- Japanese racing driver Takuma Sato, who secured an Indianapolis 500 victory in August, was awarded the grand prix in this year's Mainichi sporting figure prizes, it was announced on Nov. 29.
Sato snatched his second victory for the 104th Indy 500 -- considered part of the Triple Crown of Motorsport alongside the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Monaco Grand Prix -- for the first time in three years. He is the 20th driver as well as the first Japanese to win the race multiple times.
Sato's victory uplifted the mood in the country, when many people were feeling low amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, the culture award went to swimmer Rikako Ikee, who made a comeback after going into treatment for leukemia last year and participated in a match in August this year for the first time in around 19 months. After the competition, she said, "I'd like for various people to see that I've been able to make my dreams and goals come true through my own recovery and swimming." Ikee gave her audience courage through her moving speech. She also reminded people of the power of sports, as various events were postponed and canceled due to the coronavirus crisis.
The rookie prizes were awarded to Momoko Ohtani, who was the runner-up at the French Open women's wheelchair tennis singles, and Nozomi Tanaka, a new face in middle-distance running who broke the Japanese record for the women's 1,500 meters for the first time in 14 years.
(Japanese original by Sports News Department)