At 61, Shinobu Fukushima is the oldest ice hockey player at the Winter Paralympics - but the Japanese goaltender laughs off the suggestion that he might retire any time soon.


Para-ice hockey sees players with leg impairments strapped into double-bladed sledges, and they then use two short sticks to zip around the rink and shoot. It is one of the toughest sports - and most popular among spectators - at the Paralympics, and players are kitted out in helmets and padding to avoid injury in clashes. 


But Fukushima, who is competing in his fourth Paralympics in Pyeongchang, shrugs off the suggestion that his age is an impediment to playing at the highest level. "I don't really think about it," he told AFP, after the Japan team lost 6-1 to Norway earlier this week. "I am just a player."


He admitted however he tried to retire on one occasion in recent years. "I thought I wanted leave it to younger guys," he said. Ageing athletes often opt for slower-paced Paralympic sports, in particular wheelchair curling, rather than the fast and furious form of hockey played at the Games.


With only about 30 dedicated para-ice hockey players to pick from in the whole of Japan, Fukushima was pulled out of retirement to come to Pyeongchang. Now when asked how long he plans to keep playing, he replies with laugh; "until 101".


Source: www.economictimes.indiatimes.com