An Olympic medal is one of the most coveted items in existence. People spend decades, often agonizing ones, working to obtain one. The life stories of so many are deﬁned by the pursuit of these metal medallions, and those same stories are what inspire and bring millions of us together.
And now, thanks to the Tokyo 2020 medal project, not only do the athletes inspire with their stories, but each medal itself has a story of its own! The best part is that each citizen has a chance to contribute to the story, to raise awareness about a sustainable future and to make a unique contribution. And, most excitingly, they have a chance to be part of the Olympic journey.
The weight of a medal around your neck is always a good weight. And when an athlete at Tokyo wins a medal, the weight of it will not be from the gold, silver or bronze; it will be the weight of a nation. The awesomeness of this project makes me want to come out of retirement and compete for one.
I have always been a fan of people who do things differently; of those who try to move the needle in a positive way. I am a fan of Tokyo 2020.
Paralympic athletes work hard every day to reach the podium. We were able to win our medals with the help and support of numerous people. The very fact that the medal represents the hopes and dreams of so many people makes it even more special. When the medals were hung around our necks and we saw the smiles on the faces of all those who had supported us, and the joy of the children who had joined together with us to promote Wheelchair Rugby, that's when I really felt the full value of the medal.
I believe our medals nurture hope and dreams in people and in the future of the Paralympic sport.
I think the Tokyo 2020 medal project is an amazing initiative. It actively engages people throughout Japan to take part in the production of the Olympic and Paralympic medals. It also inspires athletes to work even harder to win one.
Computers and smart phones have become useful tools. However, I think it is 'mottainai' [wasteful] to discard devices every time there is a technological advance and new models appear. In the field of sport, gymnastics techniques too have evolved as a result of the efforts made by athletes in the past.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic medals will be made out of people's thoughts and appreciation for avoiding waste. I think there is an important message in this for future generations.
The moment I receive a medal is the moment that all the technical and physical training and the main focus of my thoughts for the previous months and years all seem worth it. People often look at the medal and seem so happy that you would think they had won it themselves. And the joy on the faces of the children that touch the medal - that's when I look back and think that all the effort was worthwhile.
Today, we are spoiled with the vast amount of choice we have. I think bringing the people of Japan together to participate in the Tokyo 2020 medal project towards the production of Games' medals - which symbolise an athlete's crowning achievement - is a great way for the host country of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to demonstrate its commitment to environmental sustainability and ensure that the public is actively engaged in the preparations for the Games.
Everyone loves to hold a medal in their hand. I believe that producing medals with recycled metals will lead to a heightened public awareness of environmental issues - and that will be one of the legacies that remain long after the Tokyo 2020 Games are over.