Carrying the flame in the Paralympic Torch Relay has inspired Kai Sakakibara to pursue a new sporting goal.
The Helensburgh BMX racer saw his Olympic dream dashed last February after a heavy crash in the Bathurst World Cup event.
The incident left Sakakibara in a coma and fighting for his life. The athlete suffered a traumatic brain injury and was left with permanent injuries.
The 25-year-old has been in Japan for the past six weeks, first watching sister Saya compete in the Olympics before his involvement in the Paralympics torch relay.
The trip was also a chance for Kai to catch up with old family and friends, many of whom he had not seen for a number of years.
It was during the torch relay, however, that Kai met numerous disabled athletes, their experiences igniting a competitive fire within.
"It was amazing to carry the torch," Sakakibara told the Mercury from hotel quarantine.
"It was really cool to be inspired by the other runners, they probably thought the same thing about me. There's a bit of mutual respect which was really good.
"I hope to be able to compete in the Paralympic Games. We're not sure yet if it's possible and what sport I might like. I'll just need to see how it goes."
While Sakakibara would like to compete in the next Paralympic Games, the path to Paris remains unclear.
The family must work out what sport and classification he is best suited to and if it's possible to embark on this quest while also juggling rehab and a potential return to work in the coming years.
In the meantime, Sakakibara remains committed to further progress in his recovery from the accident.
After learning how to walk again, the cyclist now plays golf to improve his motor skills and is steadily rebuilding function in his right arm.
Sakakibara completed a lap of a BMX track in July and once he's out of quarantine, the athlete is eager to get back on the bike.
"The rehab has been really good up to now," Sakakibara said. "I've gone from not being able to even walk to being able to walk, now being able to ride my bike has been awesome. Riding the track as well was awesome.
"I'm not sure what my next goal will be, it might be to go around the track even faster."
Kai has impressed both family and friends, mother Yuki proud of the way he has remained committed to steady progress.
"I was so happy to see him carry the torch with those other awesome people," Yuki said. "We met a lot of great people and it was really inspiring for all of us."
While Kai's time in Japan was a success, there was one moment of disappointment.
That came when Saya crashed out of the semi-finals, the 22-year-old carried from the track on a stretcher. She was diagnosed with a concussion, an injury that ruled her out of the recent BMX World Championships.
While symptoms lingered for longer than anticipated, Saya recently completed light gym sessions and barring any setbacks, a return to cycling is not far away.
"It was a big achievement for Saya to get to that point," Yuki said. "It was great to see her competing with other great riders and she was on top of them before she fell.
"She's in France now and feeling better. She doesn't have any post-concussion symptoms anymore and will be back on the bike soon."
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