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Yoroku: Heartfelt round of applause for all athletes who fought on Paralympic stage

Born with no arms, archery athlete Matt Stutzman says there's nothing he can't do. The American, who competed in the Tokyo Paralympics, uses his feet to draw the bow and release the arrow. He was certified by the Guinness World Records for hitting a target at 310 yards, or about 283 meters -- the longest distance for any archer, disabled or otherwise.

    Turkish swimmer Sumeyye Boyaci was also born without arms. She took up the sport after a visit to an aquarium when it dawned on her that fish can swim even though they do not have arms. The Paralympian also served as the model for a Barbie doll as part of a collection honoring female athletes. The young para-swimmer was determined to show people her skills and what she is capable of doing.

    The words of athletes who overcame acquired disabilities also carry great power. Among them is Keiko Sugiura, a 50-year-old Japanese cyclist who became Japan's oldest gold medalist after winning two events at the Tokyo Games. "Setting a record as the youngest person to secure gold in a competition can only be achieved once by the same person, but being the oldest can be broken any number of times," said Sugiura, before following through on her words and snatching another victory in a different race three days later.

    The cyclist had previously suffered a brain injury in an able-bodied road race. Even amid despair, cycling was a source of hope for the athlete. "Don't worry about what you have lost. Just make the most of what you have left." Such words by Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, the "father of the Paralympics," live on today, embodied by these athletes.

    The 13 days of being glued to newspapers' sports sections has come to an end. While being encouraged by the words of those who persistently challenge themselves, some of us may have reflected on days spent searching for excuses for not being able to do something.

    The athletes' brilliant moments on stage during the Tokyo Paralympic Games are just one scene in their long lives. Italian wheelchair fencing star Beatrice, or "Bebe," Vio says that each Paralympian has overcome some sort of tribulation before coming to this stage. Let us applaud the 4,400 athletes who fought on until the end, and the people who supported them, from the bottom of our hearts.

    ("Yoroku," a front-page column in the Mainichi Shimbun)

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