The world takes notice when Yuichi Takahashi runs. But the man himself can't. On Sunday, the 47-year-old will take to the elite men's marathon field as the only blind runner — something he's made peace with since he discovered the joys of running.
Always into athletics at school, Yuichi lost eyesight due to illness in high school. The running enthusiast was wrecked and withdrew into his shell.
At 30, the Japanese first heard of the Paralympics and attempted running again.
What followed were a spate of injuries and broken bones for the lack of vision. The love rescued him.
Yuichi met his wife Yoshiko through running and found the perfect guide and soulmate, both on and off the road.
A few years later, he met Toshiyuki Hayata, a runner past his prime, who volunteered to help Yuichi realise his dream.
The test for the trio came at the Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004. And Yuichi didn't disappoint his mates, nailing gold with a timing of 2.44.24.
“It was a very emotional moment for me, the triumph being the least of it. Ever since I lost my sight, I had been teased and bullied at school and elsewhere. When I touched the medal, all my negative feelings were released. I forgave them all,” Yuichi said.
Yoshiko and Toshiyuki today split the 42.195km distance between them, while the main man hits the road by their side, attached by a rope.
It's a release of sorts for Yuichi — it's the only time he drops his stick.