Japan's men's goalball team are continuing their preparations for the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, despite being unable to train as a team.
The squad are currently working on improving their technique and strength as part of their individual training, as the coronavirus situation means they cannot train collectively.
Ryoga Yamaguchi, a member of the Japan squad that won bronze in last year's International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Goalball Asia Pacific Championships, said that despite the disruption caused by the pandemic, the team were still fully focused on success on home soil at the rearranged Paralympic Games, due to take place in Tokyo from August 24 to September 5 2021.
"Although we haven’t been able to train much as a team, we are all highly driven and are training individually," said Yamaguchi.
"To keep ourselves motivated, we visualise each strong team or player."
The country's win in the Asia Pacific Championships may prove a useful experience going forward as that medal was clinched on home soil with victory over South Korea.
"I was relieved and delighted to receive a medal and thanks to the warm support from the locals, I didn’t feel any added pressure to win at home," Yamaguchi said.
"The team and I were deeply appreciative of the affection of the home crowd and we are lucky that we are blessed to have a lot of support from sponsors, our employers and families that enables us to play our sport in the best environment, without any worries."
Yamaguchi was introduced to goalball at high school and after 18 months he competed at the 2013 Goalball Youth World Championships, where he was part of a winning national team.
Yamaguchi then made the step up to senior level and is confident that the squad can continue to improve on their recent successes.
"There has always been a gap of experience between our team and the stronger countries, so we need to work on creating our own style so we can compete with them," Yamaguchi said.
"In order to step up as a team we remain positive and will continue to strengthen.
"Teamwork is our greatest strength and we bring out the best in each other.
"Personally, I want to continue to be at the heart of the team in five years, competing as a key player internationally.
"Our focus now is on the Paralympic Games and we have been working on our aggressive offence and sturdy defence in order to win the gold medal.
"In order to step up as a team we remain positive and will continue to strengthen our team and reinforce or motto - one for all and all for one."
The goalball competition is scheduled to take place at Makuhari Messe Hall C in Tokyo from August 25 to September 3 2021.
Twenty men’s and women’s teams will go for gold, with Lithuania the defending champions in the men’s event and Turkey defending the women’s title.