Kunieda Makes History as First Para-Athlete to Receive People’s Honor Award

Shingo Kunieda Set to Receive People’s Honor Award for Paralympic Achievements

Shingo Kunieda, the renowned wheelchair tennis player who secured four Paralympic gold medals, is set to be honored with the prestigious People’s Honor Award by the Japanese government. This accolade would mark the first time a para-athlete has received such recognition since the award’s inception in 1977.

Kunieda’s outstanding achievements on the tennis court, including his lifetime Golden Slam and his significant contributions to Japan’s para-sports landscape, are the driving factors behind the decision to bestow him with this esteemed award.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, on Friday, instructed the relevant government bodies to consider presenting Kunieda with the People’s Honor Award. Kishida expressed his admiration for Kunieda’s unprecedented accomplishments in the sports world and emphasized the importance of honoring his legacy through this award.

The 38-year-old tennis star’s retirement from competition, announced on social media on Jan. 22, marked the end of an illustrious career that began when Kunieda took up the sport at age 11 after being confined to a wheelchair due to a spinal tumor at the age of 9. He went on to compete in five consecutive Paralympic Games, clinching gold medals in men’s singles at the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games.

Kunieda also served as the captain of the Japanese delegation at the Tokyo Paralympics, where he claimed another gold medal. His remarkable successes also extend to the international stage, with a Wimbledon singles title under his belt from last year.

The People’s Honor Award has only been granted to 26 individuals and one team before, all of whom have made significant contributions to society and are beloved by the people. The most recent recipient was figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu in 2018 for his consecutive Winter Olympic gold medals.

This prestigious award recognizes individuals who have brought hope and inspiration to society through their remarkable achievements. Other esteemed recipients include singer Hibari Misora and “Sazae-san” mangaka Machiko Hasegawa.

The decision to honor Shingo Kunieda with the People’s Honor Award is a testament to his unwavering dedication and exceptional accomplishments in the world of para-athletics. His legacy as a trailblazer in wheelchair tennis and his exemplary performances at the highest level have undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the global sports community.


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