Hanako Sawayama competed as a Special Olympics athlete representing Singapore for 17 years.Following her success on the sports field Hanako went on to become an International Global Messenger for the Special Olympics movement.
She first represented the country internationally at the 2nd Invitational Ten-Pin Competition (Asian Zone), Sarawak in August 2000 before participating in the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin, Ireland where she brought home one gold and two silver medals in bowling.
In her role as an International Global Messenger, she champions the rights of people with intellectual disabilities in the Asia Pacific region by representing their thoughts and views at numerous forums and congresses related to social inclusion. Amongst her many significant achievements she has served as keynote speaker at the 2005 World Winter Games Opening Ceremonies in Nagano in Japan and served at one point as the Athlete Representative on Special Olympics Singapore’s Executive Committee.
Once a very shy girl, Hanako is now a confident member of staff at Special Olympics Asia Pacific, working with the team to continue to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities both on and off the sports field.