Sato Mami: Making the Best of Life

New Horizon Book 3 (Heisei 28) pg. 148-149

Sato Mami has loved sports ever since she was a little girl. At the age of six, she started going to a swimming school and swam every day. The training was hard, but she enjoyed setting goals and beating them.

In junior high, Mami switched to track and field. She competed as a long-distance runner in high school. Sports showed Mami the importance of working hard. The more effort she put in, the better results she got.

Mami began her college life in Tokyo with high hopes and expectations. Right away, she joined the cheerleading club. Then suddenly at nineteen, her life changed completely. One day, Mami felt a pain in her ankle. It was bone cancer, and she had to have an amputation of her right leg. To a young woman who enjoyed sports so much, losing her leg was almost like losing her life. Mami was in despair, but her mother hugged her and encouraged her, “My dear Mami, God doesn’t give you any challenge which you cannot overcome.”

Ten months after her operation, Mami returned to college. Her friends welcomed her back, but Mami felt so miserable about her disability that it was hard for her to smile and laugh naturally with them. She felt different and alone. Finally, Mami realized that this was not the life she wanted and not her true style. “The operation saved my life. So why not treasure that life and live more positively?”

Mami worked up the courage to go swimming again. To her surprise, her childhood sense of joy in swimming came back to her. This gave her hope. Mami decided to try other sports with a new artificial leg. She returned to track and field, and took up long jumping.

Once more, Mami found that she enjoyed setting goals and beating them. She developed a new confidence and started the second stage of her life as a promising Paralympic athlete. So far, Mami has competed at three Paralympic Games in a row. In Athens in 2004, she became the first Japanese woman participant with an artificial leg and she scored 3.95 meters. In Beijing in 2008, she jumped 4.28 meters. At the 2012 London Games, she stretched her record further to 4.70 meters.

Mami still has many goals that she wishes to pursue. She wants to serve as a bridge between able-bodied and disabled people through sports. Mami comes from Miyagi Prefecture. She and other athletes organized sporting events to encourage people in Tohoku who experienced hardship. Mami said, “Only then did I see the true power of sports. To create new dreams and smiles. To give hope. To bring people together.”

Mami has made a way for herself to enjoy her life, despite her disability. She shows others the importance of setting personal goals and working hard to reach them, no matter how difficult their situation might be. She says humbly, “I felt privileged to have been touched by the power of sports.” Perhaps we are privileged to have Mami as a role model.

Official translation

Taken from the New Horizon's teachers manual.

佐藤真海 精一杯生きること








See also