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Shinichi Shimakawa

Shinichi (Shin) was 24 years old and living in Beppu city in Osaka when he first went to a wheelchair rugby training session. Back then, he did track and had participated in the Oita International Wheelchair Marathon so he was not initially keen on team sports, but quickly overcame this once he saw wheelchair rugby being played. During his first outing he got onto court and made some hits on other players, “this is it”! he thought, the rest as they say is history. Now he feels that the most exciting part of wheelchair rugby - after the hit - is the profundity of tactics.

In Japan, after playing in Oita Prefecture and then in Team Festa, he made the new team Blitz in 2005. Team Blitz won four successive championships in the Japan Nationals and Shin has won the MVP every year since 2002.

The first time he competed in the Japanese National Team was at the 1st Oceania Zone Championships in 2001. He won the “Best Rookie Award” and his activity made the little known Japan famous around the world. At the 2nd Oceania Zone Championships in 2003, he was both the MVP and the Best Player of the 3.0 class. After that when Japan attend the Athens Paralympics in 2004 as a wild card position, though the team ended with the lowest ranking among the 8 participated countries, Shinichi was the highest scoring player.

At the 4th World Championships in 2006, he lead the team and Japans world ranking jumped to 5th. Shin was also named the Best Player of the 3.0 class. He also attended the Beijing Paralympics in 2008 in which Japan came 7th.

Athens Paralympics gave Shin the opportunity to play in America after his extraordinary speed and clever play on court attracted the US’s leading teams attention. In 2005, he moved to America and played for the Phoenix Heat which won the USQRA National Championships in the US (2005 - 2006). He was also the first foreign country player to win the “Athlete of the Year” award. He cannot forget how he was impressed and excited at that time. Shinichi has won many individual awards in Japan and also in other countries but the “Athlete of the Year” he feels is the most dignified award for him.

After playing for Phoenix Heat in the 2005 - 2006 season, he moved to Texas Stampede for 2006 - 2007 season and contributed to their winning the National Championships. He learned the spirit of “Never Give Up!!” from this experience of winning a dramatic victory.

For the 2009 - 2010 season, he will return to Phoenix Heat with USA’s top players, Scott Hogsett, Mark Zupan and Nick Springer.

  • 1999–01 – Oita Prefecture
  • 2002–04 – Team Festa
  • 2002–09 – Japan MVP (Most valuable player)
  • 2005–09 – Team Blitz

  • 2001 – 1st Oceania Zone Championships (Christchurch, New Zealand) Best Rookie
  • 2003 – 2nd Oceania Zone Championships (Chiba, Japan) MVP, Best 3.0 player
  • 2004 – Paralympics (Athens) Highest scoring player
  • 2006 – 4th World Championships (Christchurch, New Zealand) Captain, Best 3.0 player
  • 2008 – Paralympics (Beijing)

  • USA
  • 2005–06 – Phoenix Heat, Athlete of the year
  • 2006–07 – Texas Stampede
  • 2009–10 – Phoenix Heat

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