BOSTON — When Misato Michishita won the Paralympic marathon in Tokyo this summer, she picked up more than a gold medal.
The visually impaired Japanese office worker became a must-get for organizers of Monday’s Boston Marathon, where she will headline one of three new para divisions being unveiled for the 125th edition of the race.
The first major marathon to include a wheelchair race, in 1975, Boston has named a champion in a visually impaired division since 1986. But ever since the 2013 finish-line bombing that killed three people and left so many with prosthetic limbs, organizers sought a way to be more inclusive for para athletes who had long participated only for the satisfaction of finishing.
For the first time this year, the Boston Athletic Association will award titles and prize money in three new divisions: visually impaired, upper-body impairment and lower-body impairment. The top men and women in each will receive $1,500 from a total purse of $16,500.
Blind in her right eye since middle school due to a rare genetic disease in her cornea, Michishita began running marathons at 26. Using a guide to direct her along the course, she won a silver medal in Rio de Janeiro and saw the opportunity to upgrade to gold in her homeland. (AP)