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Gentle Sarah Asahina invited disabled patients to the worlds
5 Sep 2019 11:05
At the last day of the individual World Championships, reigning World Champion +78kg Sarah Asahina had some specials fans supporting her bouts. Although a fierce judoka on the mat, Sarah is a very gentle and likable person off the tatami. Moreover, she volunteers her free time working for ‘Project Puppy’, a program for patients with respiratory problems which started in 1983 by Dr. Katsuyuki Miyasaka.
Miyasaka developed the world’s smallest and lightest battery operable ventilator for home and transport use and named it the ‘Puppy’ ventilator. The introduction of ‘Puppy’ into pediatric home ventilatory care was revolutionary and made the lives of patients and their families much easier.
With the support of Dr. Yasuyuki Suzuki, the current Director of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, and Mr. Tetsuya Suzuki, the President of Origin Medical, the first official Puppy Summer Camp was held in 1995. Sarah Asahina started joining the camp activities when she became a high school student. Sarah, together with her father Dr. Teruya Asahina, who was an anesthesia trainee under Dr. Katsuyuki Miyasaka at that time, and her friends often give judo demonstrations to the delight of all. For many participants it’s their first occasion to experience a live judo performance.
"I like volunteering for Project Puppy,” says Sarah. “My goal is to bring judo as close as I can to children that are physical not capable for doing judo. So in a way, they too can experience the excitement of the sport and everything that comes along with it: respect, courage, perseverance … That’s also the reason I invited some of them to watch my competition here in the Budokan. I hope they can draw energy through my performance. I’m a bit disappointed I let them down and only could win bronze and not gold again. I will invite them again to other competitions.”
“She invited a number of patients she works with as a volunteer to come and watch her competition at the Judo Worlds and paid for their tickets. In Japan it’s common to have disabled patients to be present at baseball or football games, but it was unheard of in judo, until now. I’m proud of my daughter. Sarah has a big heart,” her dad Dr. Teruya Asahina said.
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