Photo/IllutrationGurimu Narita slides in the men’s snowboarding banked slalom event at the Jeongseon Alpine Center in Jeongseon, South Korea, on March 16. (Ryo Kato)

  • Photo/Illustraion

JEONGSEON, South Korea--Gurimu Narita took the gold medal in men’s snowboarding banked slalom at the Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics here March 16, the eighth day of the Games.

Narita, 24, whose left leg is paralyzed below the knee, won in the SB-LL2 classification for lower-limb impaired riders, an event that featured for the first time in the Paralympics.

It also made him the first male Japanese gold medalist in the Pyeongchang Games. The other gold was won by Momoka Muraoka in the women's alpine skiing giant slalom event.

Narita also won a bronze medal in the snowboard cross event on March 12.

In the banked slalom, competitors get three chances to slide down a banked course that has slalom gates and slanted curves. It is the fastest time that counts.

His paralysis stems from a training accident on a trampoline when he was 19.

In spite of that handicap, he took up snowboarding again three years ago and gradually got to know top athletes in the sport, developing a special rapport with Evan Strong, 31, of the United States, who clinched the silver medal in the same event.

They both agreed that having a disability is no bar to doing sports, and wanted to spread that awareness.

“Many people in a similar situation are told by doctors that they will not walk again or never be able to participate in sports. But I was able to win a gold medal. If I have become a light for them, even if it’s a small one, I will be so happy with that,” Narita said.