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Paralympian, nurse, musician: Manami Ito, Japan's show-stealing violinist
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Paralympian, nurse, musician: Manami Ito, Japan's show-stealing violinist


[Image: 319f2f534d45cb16e73ee8a3c0203eebb9788841...k=POc5seFN]


Haunting notes stream from Manami Ito's violin as she gracefully draws her bow back and forth, clasping it with her specially designed prosthetic arm.


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The Japanese musician enthralled a nation with her brief but show-stealing performance at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympics, and playing violin isn't even her day job.

The 36-year-old is a qualified nurse and a former Paralympian swimmer who has spent the years since she lost her right arm in a motorbike accident defying her naysayers and overcoming every obstacle before her.

"There were always people who told me: 'No, you can't do it. It's impossible,'" she told AFP at her mother's home by a lush green riverbank.

"Every time I faced that kind of wall, I thought to myself: 'They are saying that because no one has done it before. So I will do it'."

But that wasn't always the way Ito felt, particularly in the dark days after her accident at the age of 20.

"I thought I would confine myself at home for the rest of my life," she admits. "I didn't want my friends or neighbours to see my body, I didn't want them to know what happened to me."

It was the sight of her parents "in real pain" at her state that made her rethink her stance. "I thought, I cannot make them smile if I don't smile myself," she said.

Ito had been encouraged by her mother to play the violin when she was a child, and after her accident she decided to give it another try.
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