Kenya Karasawa set a world record in the para-athletics 5,000 meters in the men's T11 visually impaired category with a time of 15 minutes, 9.94 seconds on Sunday, the final day of the eastern Japan corporate athletics championships in Kumagaya, north of Tokyo.

The 26-year-old, who is also likely to compete in the 1,500 meters at this year's Paralympics, won the 5,000 bronze medal at the 2019 world championships in Dubai to book his first Paralympic berth.

Japan's Kenya Karasawa (C) poses for a photo after running the men's 5,000-meter race (T11 classification for blind athletes) in a world-record 15 minutes, 9.94 seconds at the eastern Japan corporate athletic championships on May 16, 2021. (Kyodo)

A native of Gunma Prefecture, Karasawa was born with poor eyesight and became completely blind by the time he graduated from junior high school, but enjoyed sports including athletics and goalball and was also the student body president while at his high school.

Karasawa began working for a Braille library, but listening to the TV broadcasts of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games inspired him to aim for the Tokyo Games.

He continues to work at the library for nine hours from 8:30 in the morning but runs before and after work with his escort runners five days a week.

Since 2017, the 1.63-meter runner had shed over 30 seconds from his time in the 5,000 meters, winning the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta in the process. He entered this season aiming to shatter the world record of 15:11.07 and even run under 15 minutes.

Kenya Karasawa (R). (Kyodo)