To The Beginning of the Rest of My Life

11 Jun shonakamori 16 Comments »

Last week was a huge turning point in my life.  I left St Louis early last week to head to the US National Championships, which served as the first of two qualification meets to make it onto the US Olympic Team.  Unfortunately my competition didn’t go as I had hoped and I fell short of making the cut to get to the final process.  There is no denying that it was disappointing but I can finally say that I did all that I could do to prepare mentally and physically.  I left every ounce of strength and soul I had in me out on the competition floor that day.

I never believed it when retired gymnasts told me that they had to stop training because their bodies just couldn’t handle the beating of training anymore.  It takes a lot of physical stress to be able to prepare and compete at the highest level.  As I was preparing for the US Championships, I finally started to understand this.  From being an all-arounder, I had to cut floor and vault to just focus on 4 events because my knee just couldn’t keep up with the stress anymore.  Sadly, it never fully recovered from the ACL tear a couple of years ago.  Other little injuries started coming up and it was just a constant battle with pain.

Even though I’ve always been the harshest critic to myself, I feel that I can finally give myself a pat on the back and say that I am proud.  When you compete at such a high level, it’s easy to categorize success and failure based on whether you make it all the way to the Olympics or not.  As my old teammate and former national team member has stated, “for every athlete who prevails on the highest stage, many thousands fall short.  Sometimes the difference between them is not a matter of talent or effort.”  It’s a given that the best athletes train hard…we all want “it”.  Sometimes it just depends on the vagaries of time and circumstance.

Every single time I had a major injury that required surgery, I was told that my career would pretty much be over. However, I bounced back and came back stronger each and every time.  When I broke my femur, I came back and competed at an international meet with the senior team.  When I tore my bicep tendon, I came back and earned a position on the squad for the World Championships team.  When I tore my ACL, I came back and made the Pan American Games team.  This time around, all the injuries caught up to me and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  And although I couldn’t realize my biggest dream and join all of my heroes in the Promised Land of the Olympians, I have zero regrets for trying and putting up the fight.  I could’ve thrown in the towel and retired a long time ago but I’m proud of myself for persevering until the end, and the satisfaction of giving it my all is comforting.

Despite how it ended, I would not exchange this experience for anything because I realized that the value was in fact in the journey.  I’ve had some great opportunities – representing the U.S. at various international events and meeting so many amazing people. Many of these people will be my lifelong friends. I have a lot to be grateful for. To those that offered me even a couple words of encouragement, suggested a book to read, supported me mentally/physically throughout this long career – Thank You So Much!

My chapter as a gymnast ends now but here’s to the beginning of the rest of my life!

Thank you again!

I’ll Trade Ya!

24 May shonakamori 1 Comment »

The other day I got this in the mail.

Hilton Trading Cards!

When I was younger, I was always envious of the kids that got their trading cards made when they played little league.  This is kinda light it right?  Thanks to Hilton and Team Hilton HHonors for making me into a trading card!

Good ‘Ol Day at the Ballpark

23 May shonakamori No Comments »

For those of you that don’t already know, I’m a huge baseball fan.  That said, I’m so glad I finally got an off day to just relax and have fun at the ball park!  It was a good way to clear my mind.  I think the awesome weather helped!

The match up was Giants vs the A’s.  I’m a bay area native and although you’re not officially supposed to like both teams, I do, so it was basically a win-win situation for me.  One of the teams is gonna end up winning right?

In the end the A’s won, which was actually nice to see since they had a pretty long losing streak going on at AT&T park.  Good times and to make things even more awesome is I got a Brian Wilson lawn gnome.  Check out pics below :)

Such a nice day and awesome view of the Bay Bridge. Had to get a shot since I was there for the Bay Bridge Series of course.

I guess it was 12:05 when I took the picture :)

Nosebleed seats but super nice view of the park and the bay.

The ridiculously long line to get the lawn gnome. I heard that some people were there for over 4 hours!

Got one! You don't Gno-Me!

Go Get ‘Em!

20 May shonakamori 2 Comments »

While all this time I’ve been busy training and chasing my dream, someone very close to me has also been doing the same thing.  That person happens to be my sister.  Although we usually don’t say a ton of good things about each other, or to each other for that matter,(we are very close in age and both of us are super competitive), I wanted to take this opportunity to say that I’ve always admired her determination and her fighting spirit.  She’s been competitive in Kendo since she was very young.  And this week she’s in Italy to fight it out at the biggest stage – the World Championships.  Although this would be a huge accomplishment even for a regular athlete, I see this as a bigger deal for her since she was born with a disability.  She’s been deaf since birth, and because of that, she’s had to deal with a ton of adversity and work extra hard to make up for something that we take for granted everyday.  Even more impressive is that after college, she started working full-time for the US Government but continued to keep up her Kendo training.  She’s come a long way and I feel that I speak for everyone when I say that I couldn’t be more proud of all that she has accomplished already.  Wishing her and the rest of the US Kendo team best of luck as they fight it out on the world’s biggest stage!

My sister all set to go to Worlds

Keeping Things in Perspective

20 May shonakamori No Comments »

I can’t believe I haven’t written here in over 2 weeks!  Please forgive me though as the last couple of weeks have been a bit crazy.

A few things to update here.  Training has been coming along pretty well.  In fact, I just finished my last hard week of training before USA Championships.  Yup, USAs…it’s just a couple of weeks away.  From here on out, I will be doing less reps but raising the quality of each turn.  Lower numbers means I get to let my body recover so that I could be in peak condition when USAs roll around!  My hard week of training was rather brutal but I’m totally glad to be done with it.  This will be the first qualification for the Olympic Team!

Some people say I’m interesting because when things get more intense in the gym, I try and do more stuff outside of the gym.  One of the reasons I do this is because I feel that it keeps me grounded, and helps me release the stress that comes along with training.  Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been busy doing more work (the Google stuff), studying for the GMAT (thinking about eventually applying to B-School), and doing some volunteer work.

I haven't opened up a book and studied in years. My head spins when I think too hard but I'm easing back into it!

Of all these things, the volunteer work has been especially great.  I’ve been helping with the set up for the prom that’s going to be held in a couple of weeks at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.  Although we call it the “prom,” the event is more like an end of the year party since all of the kids that attend the hospital school are invited.  It’s really inspiring and puts my life in perspective when I see these kids fight for their lives with all they’ve got.  Some of them are really young, but super brave.  It makes me not want to complain about the small things anymore.  Anyway, this is my third year volunteering for the prom and this year’s theme is an “Under the Sea” theme.  Dreamworks (the production company famous for movies like Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar) has been gracious enough to let us borrow their facility.  We’ve been working on making signs, props related to the ocean such as paper mache coral reefs, and games booths that we’ll be using during the event.  Things are moving along and hopefully I can share some photos with you guys as we go along!

Volunteering at Dreamworks!

Training Update!

01 May shonakamori 10 Comments »

We’ve entered May and I’ve been pushing my training along to get prepared for the big qualification meets for the Olympics!  Weather in California has been a bit up and down, which hasn’t been good to my body.  Your body usually doesn’t like it when it gets super hot one day and then gets really cool.  Shouldn’t be complaining though.

I’ve attached some training vids to update you on my progress.  They are not perfect by any means but it’s getting there.  I’ll be pushing myself through a couple more cycles so that I could peak at the right time!  Let’s git ‘er done!

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Proud Member of Hilton HHonors

20 Apr shonakamori 2 Comments »

Wanted to say a quick thank you to Hilton HHonors for their continued support!  They are currently supporting me and a few other gymnasts in the US.  Check out the press release here.

Team Hilton!

Grateful for all the support.  Wouldn’t be able to pursue this dream without you all!

The Hilton uniform I'll be wearing at domestic meets!


15 Apr shonakamori 2 Comments »

Being a gymnast in the US isn’t quite the same as being a Major League Baseball player or  a pro basketballer.  Although we get some funding if we are on the national team, it’s not quite enough to cover the entire cost of living.  A lot of us who are out of college either have to work while training or find other ways to support ourselves.  Over the years, I’ve picked up several jobs to support myself.  Some of these jobs include being a tutor and working at a start-up company.

A couple of months ago I started working for Google as a part-time employee!  My main work is doing quality checks and ensuring the validity of Japanese ads that pop up on Google Japan.  Sadly, as a part-time employee I don’t get the perks that a full-time employee would get.  However, my friend that works there on a full-time basis invited me to lunch the other day.  Pretty crazy that it was my first time visiting the Google campus given that I’ve lived in this area for a super long time.   As for food, it was delicious and the campus has several full-blown cafeterias.  It’s kind of like visiting a Las Vegas buffet. The perks you get as a Googler is pretty ridiculous.  No wonder so many people want to work there!

@ the Google Campus!

It was Parent's Day @ Google so a ton of parents were on campus to check out where their kids work.

Even got myself a to-go box for dinner afterwards :)

Food for later!

The Shark Tank

05 Apr shonakamori No Comments »

The other day I had an awesome opportunity to go watch the San Jose Sharks at the HP Pavilion.  With only a couple of games lefts and Playoffs on the line, it was an exciting atmosphere to be in.  Luckily, the Sharks shut out the Stars: 3-0!

The players coming out of the Shark!

Sold out house made for an exciting atmosphere!

Love the jumbo-tron here for some reason. So clear.

Big shootout to Dr. M for the tickets!  :)

Another reason why it was awesome being here was because the Olympic Trials for London will be held at the same site!  Yes, right in my own backyard.  I remember competing there a few years ago for the US Championships.  Atmosphere was electrifying!

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No one is a lock to compete at the trials.  The nation’s top gymnasts will battle out for the 15 spots at the US Championships.  The US is deep and all of us are working hard towards it.  The last stop for all US gymnasts competing in London this summer will be the HP Pavilion!

The Shark Tank - HP Pavilion!

Whirlwind Week!

01 Apr shonakamori No Comments »

It’s hard to figure out how I got through last week.  It turned out to be a whirlwind of a week which was sadly the main reason I wasn’t able to update my site as much!  To be honest, all the days felt like they got meshed together due to how busy I was. Luckily, I am caught up (for the most part) and things are more or less back to normal :)

The reason for all the craziness was because I had a short week.  The week before, I spent a few days at the Olympic Training Center for another national team camp.  The camp turned out to be a great one even though only half of the national team members were present.  There were a number of athletes representing the US at an international event in Germany, while some were resting at home or competing at collegiate meets.  With some major competitions coming up fairly soon most of us were starting to put routines together again.  The transition time from working skills and sequences, to putting together routines again can be a bit of a tough time.  However, there is no way around it and it’s just one of those things that you just have push through.

What made the camp even better was we had a special guest.  Edouard Iarov was there to help us.  For those of you that are unfamiliar, Edouard was the coach of the legendary  Valery Liukin, (former World and Olympic Champion).  He used to be a coach in Canada but apparently he is coaching in the US now.

The day after I got back from camp, I judged the Northern California State Championships for boys.  It was an all day, super long, marathon of a meet but as always it was great seeing the boys put their skills on the floor.  Unfortunately I won’t be able to judge Regionals this year but best of luck to all the boys as I know they’ve all been working hard all season long.  With States over, I am done with judging for the rest of the year.  While it’s a bit of a bummer, I’m also kind of happy that I get the time to relax and do what I need to do over the weekends.

In the hot seat. Judging pommels!

Now that the busy week is over, I am pretty much caught up on everything.  Can’t tell you how happy this makes me feel.  I definitely appreciate the small things in life!