Home » international news » Winter Paralympics: Shinobu Fukushima, 61 goaltender for Japan plays ice hockey

Winter Paralympics: Shinobu Fukushima, 61 goaltender for Japan plays ice hockey

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 18 March 2018, 14:16 IST

Shinobu Fukushima, 61 is the oldest ice hockey player at the Winter Paralympics. He is a goaltender and laughs off on the idea of retirement. Para-ice hockey witnesses players with leg impairments strapped into double-bladed sledges, and they then use two short sticks to zip around the rink and shoot.

Para-ice hockey is popular among the audience and is considered as the toughest sports at the Paralympics. The players are kitted out in helmets and padding to avoid injury in clashes.

It is Fukushima's fourth Paralympics in Pyeongchang and he dismisses the suggestion that his age is an impediment to playing at the highest level.

He said, "I don't really think about my age. After the Japan team lost 6-1 to Norway earlier this week. "I am just a player."

Also Read: Gunman kills ex-wife at The Oaks Mall, Southern California

Nevertheless, he admitted that in reecent years he did tried to retire. "I thought I wanted leave it to younger guys," he said.

Athletes who have crossed a certain age ofter opt for slower-paced Paralympic sports such as wheelchair curling  rather than the fast and furious form of hockey played at the Games.

Fukushima is not the only ice hockey player in Pyeongchang getting on a bit. There are four other players -- three in the Swedish team and one in the Czech -- are over 50, highlighting a difficulty to interest the younger generation in the sport.

There were only 30 dedicated para-ice hockey players from the whole of Japan and Fukushima is one among them to come to Pyeongchang.

When asked about his plans to keep playing, he replies with laugh -- until 101. His age has made him more enthusiastic and a star in Japan. He lost his legs due to a spine injury sustained in a traffic accident aged 24. He first tried wheelchair basketball, before later taking up para-ice hockey.

Fukushima first competed at the 2002 Paralympics in Salt Lake City, and he has since appeared for Japan at three other editions of the Games.

Japan's ice hockey team have not done well in Pyeongchang. They have lost all four of their matches so far, including a 10-0 drubbing to reigning Paralympic champions the United States.

When asked whether he gets teased regarding his age, he replied with a loud laugh: "Other players call me 'grandpa'."

Also Read: Partygoers injured as car ploughs into Gravesend nightclub

First published: 18 March 2018, 14:16 IST