We nominated the interviewed players as “currently growing players”, “contemporary players who think they are rivals”, “young people who are looking forward to the future from the perspective of veterans”, and “experiences who are longing for from the perspective of young people” This project will be posted in a relay system. We will approach the unique personality of wheelchair basketball players.

Last year, the women’s U25 Japan national team, who made their first foray into the top four in the same category at the women’s U25 world championships, are one step closer to medals. Kanako Yamazaki (WING) led the team as captain. Yui Ishikawa (ELFIN) , who served as the deputy captain and appeared in Vol.12 , is said to have looked up at Yamazaki, who showed leadership on and off the court and organized the team. What is the image of the players that Yamazaki, who is expected to be a young man who will lead the next generation, is now pursuing?

Wheelchair Basketball Relay Interview Women's Vol.13: Kanako Yamazaki "The Road to a Representative Who Has Re-started"

Reasons for seeking a balance between work and competition

Women’s U25 World Championship held in Thailand last May. Yamazaki participated in all games and played an active part as one of the main players. This year, he was selected as a designated strengthening player for the Japan Women’s National Team aiming for the Tokyo Paralympics and is currently working hard to survive with the top players in Japan. However, at first I was thinking of making last year’s U25 World Championship the last of my national team activities.

Yamazaki was first elected to strengthen the Japanese national team in 2018. At that time, he had just graduated from college and just got a job at the local city hall. Yamazaki was having a hard time participating in the training camp while causing trouble to the people around him in his unfamiliar life as a member of society.

“I usually feel like I’m only attending a training camp with almost no practice, and the difference with other players has only widened. This is just annoying both the people at work and other players. I thought, and if things go as they are, my work and basketball will be halfway. “

Yamazaki decides to decline his activities as a designated strengthening player. Wheelchair basketball decided to continue as a hobby.

It was at the time of the Empress’s Cup in January this year that Yamazaki said, “If you can choose (to be strengthened), I’d like to do my best as much as I can.”

It’s been 3 years since I got a job this year. It is said that it is important that he got used to work and established a lifestyle. I wake up at 6am every morning, work for 8 hours, and go to practice after work. When I work overtime, I can’t practice at night, so I go to work early in the morning to start work, and I spend my lunch break to train.

Currently, in the wheelchair basketball world, many of the top athletes in Japan are preparing an environment where they can concentrate on the competition as athletes. Yamazaki, who has a promising future, can think of ways to hire athletes, but Yamazaki explains why he is still looking for a way to balance work and competition.

“For me, working is my first priority. It doesn’t change. And I think that the activity as a representative is because of the support of the people around me. Even at last year’s world championships, The people at work watched it on YouTube and supported me. “With the support of those around me, I am now. I realized that I was able to do my best, and decided to do my best in basketball and work. “

Of course, balancing work and competition can be difficult. However, on the other hand, I also feel that both sides have a good break and can switch their feelings. For Yamazaki, “compatibility” is the best way to lead a convincing competitive life.

Being the one and only player who is particular about speed

Yamazaki decided to stand on the stage aiming for the world again. There is no doubt that one of the events that pushed her back was last year’s U25 World Championship.

“At that time, I was thinking of putting a break in my representative activities, but when I finished, I started to feel like” what should I do? “I was satisfied with the result and my own play. Because it wasn’t

The best four in the world championship is the first feat in the women’s U25 category. Seen from the side, Yamazaki was an indispensable part of the team’s strength. However, Yamazaki didn’t feel like he had run out of power. There are still many challenges, and he felt that he should have been able to do it. On the contrary, it must have been that he felt that he could grow.

Opportunities come as if Yamazaki’s feelings were understood. In December, six months after the world championships, I was invited to a selection meeting to decide the members to be strengthened for the women’s Japan national team the following year, and after the training camp, Yamazaki received a notification that he was designated to be strengthened.

Captains Ikumi Takubo (Miyagi MAX) and Mari Amimoto (cocktail), who have few Paralympic appearances in the team, and Kotone Usui (SCRATCH) of the same generation who played together as the U25 Japan national team last year, are in the same 4-point range. There are many rivals. How is Yamazaki trying to establish his own existence in the midst of fierce competition within the team?

The first thing that a 4-point player called a high pointer is required to have is scoring ability. Therefore, many players have strengths in height and outside shots. However, Yamazaki does not fit into either of them. Her greatest weapon is speed. Yamazaki, who was a track and field club before he got sick, has a strong desire to “never lose to anyone” when it comes to “running.” Therefore, most of the points are dribbled and cut in for running shots. At last year’s world championships, her play, which scored points against foreign opponents who were superior in height, gave the team momentum.

However, it was also realized at that time that it could not beat the world by itself. That’s why, what I’m focusing on right now is to acquire the ability to shoot from the outside.

“I want to continue to stick to speed. That’s why I want to increase the probability of shooting outside to make the most of my speed. If you think that there is also outside, the opponent The defense will jump up and it will be easier to cut in. I think that will help me to demonstrate my strengths. “

At the training camp, 100 shots are always practiced after the morning and afternoon exercises, which are difficult menus. Right now, the shoot touch and form are not completely solidified. Still, “continuation is power” has already been experienced. In the first year of wheelchair basketball, even the free throw did not reach the ring, but in the third year of last year’s world championship, he scored a free throw at an important stage and brought victory to the team.

And for Yamazaki, steadily accumulating has been a specialty since the track and field club era. Yamazaki, who likes to act alone. He says that his favorite time is “before the game, before practice, when he is on the court before anyone else and is up alone”. Therefore, shooting practice that is performed silently after practice is also an important time to face yourself.

For players who balance work and competition and have both cut-in and outside in play. I will continue to pursue my own style and seek a path that I am satisfied with.

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