CHICAGO — At 50, he may be one of the oldest people looking to make Team USA for the summer games in two years, but his vision for his goal is clear.
Bob Kim is aiming for the 2020 games in Tokyo as part of the Paralympic judo team. He is legally blind.
“I have what’s called cone rod dystrophy, so have no central vision. I tend to see out of the sides or above.”
The degenerative disease affects the retina, but certainly not the spirit. At 50-years-old, Bob decided to go for the games after watching the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.
“You got to be top 12 in the world to make it,” he said. “I’m competing against guys half my age. … I’m going to see how far I can go with it. Of course, the end goal is to represent the United States on the podium, but I’m enjoying the journey and that’s what I’m looking at right now.”
His sensei Shingo Uto says many visually impaired athletes gravitate to judo over other martial arts.
“(They are) more focused … on touch and feeling, breathing,” Uto said. “So that’s something he’s very much good at.”
For Bob, it’s a road he’s eager to navigate, but one that takes money, up to $18,000 to train at this level.
It’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make, to show that, even visually impaired, his sights are set at the top of the game.
“It’s easy to get down on yourself and say ‘Whoa is me,’” Bob says. “But I always say, go for what you believe in, what you want. You might fail, but you might succeed. Why not give it your best shot. If you fail, at least you try. And that’s how I look at it. I’m going to try first and give it my best effort and if I don’t make it, I don’t make it.”
You can contribute to Kim’s fundraising for team USA http://tinyurl.com/RobertHKim