Shinji Negi, a former wheelchair basketball player, came to Seisen and delivered an inspiring performance. Through the opportunity of interviewing the athlete, we learned more about his personal life and advice for future players.
As 2019 draws to a close, the 2020 Paralympics waits just around the corner. As such, the former captain of Japan’s Paralympics men’s wheelchair basketball team, Shinji Negi, joined Seisen students and faculty to share his experience as a wheelchair basketball player with us. From successfully shooting a three-pointer to skillfully dribbling around the court in a wheelchair, the two hours were filled with awe-inspiring stories and practice games.
Negi, who has been in a wheelchair since high school, did various sports since his youth, such as judo, swimming, and soccer. After he was involved in an accident, however, he underwent hospitalization, where he was introduced to wheelchair basketball. Impressed by a sport he never knew existed, Negi decided to dedicate his time to learning and playing the sport. With his teammates and fans being his greatest supporters, Negi believes that his supporters have motivated him to strive harder and continue playing sports. By participating in competitions and games, Negi asserted that he was able to make new friends and valuable supporters. Additionally, he believes that sports can reveal human potential, regardless of whether one has a disability or not. “What’s most important,” Negi says, “is having fun, overcoming challenges, and supporting each other altogether.” The athlete encourages teamwork and support, and clearly demonstrated this when he asked all of the students to cheer him on; not only does this improve self-confidence, but also motivation.
Aside from this, the wheelchair basketball player provided advice for younger athletes interested in the sport. “Challenging yourself is the most important thing,” he says, “and support is needed in order to do this. It’s hard, but once you overcome these challenges, everything will feel wondrous.” When asked about what he might have been doing if he had not pursued a career in wheelchair basketball, he took a deep sigh, and responded with: “Well, I happened to be first introduced to wheelchair basketball. So who knows, I might have just played another sport if I had been exposed to that first. Regardless, whether it is sports, arts, or anything else, I probably would have chosen a career wherein I can connect with people around the world and challenge myself.”
Negi concluded the interview with a heartfelt response, encouraging all young athletes with or without disabilities to give wheelchair basketball. By challenging ourselves, Negi insists that we can each discover our own talents and potential.