Archive for July, 2009

Puttin' It Back Together

So the surgery date to repair my ACL is confirmed and it’ll be tomorrow.  I’ve been doing a bunch of pre-hab exercises and am eager to get this surgery going so that I can be on my road to recovery.  I’ve also been doing a bunch of upper-body exercises so none of what’s happened has really slowed me down.

I’m sure everything will go well because the doctors that are going to perform surgery on me are very experienced.  In fact, one of the doctors that is going to work on me tomorrow has fixed up my shoulder before.  That said, I have a great team behind me so I’m confident that I will bounce back in no time.  Plus, ACL surgeries are fairly common these days so the techniques they use for them are very advanced.

I guess the only thing I’m not looking forward to is waking up groggy after the surgery.  I remember the last time I had surgery, I ate some lunch a couple hours later and ended up throwing everything up.  My stomach couldn’t handle it because of all the anesthesia and all the medication that was inside me.

Anyway, surgery early tomorrow morning…so early that I get to wake up before the sun does!

Sho's Coaches – Part 3

Yoshi Hatakeda coached me along with my dad from 2000 to 2002.  He went to the Olympics as a part of the Japanese team in 1992 and 1996 and has a team bronze from the first one.  He’s  won several world championships as well.  From what I remember his best events were pommel horse and high bar but he still kicked butt in the all-around also.

Currently he’s back in Japan coaching at a university.  Cool thing is he also coaches Kohei Uchimura (Olympic silver medalist).  I also recently got to see him because he was part of the coaching staff for team Japan at the Japan Cup (picture below)!

From L-R: Yoshi, Kohei, Me, Koji

From L-R: Yoshi, Kohei, Me, Koji

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Sho's Coaches – Part 2

The next person I’ll be introducing is Vitaly Marinitch.  Vitaly was my coach during the two years that I was at the Olympic Training Center (’02-’04).  He was on the Soviet team when they were dominant and he’s racked up a bunch of world championship medals including a team gold.  Vitaly was also the originator of the “Marinitch” release on high bar and also has a couple other skills named after him (you can check out the skill on the second video @ around 24 seconds).  My former teammate, Nate Downs, actually did a “Marinitch” and caught in an “el-grip.”  It’s probably one of the coolest tricks I’ve ever seen.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find the video so maybe if I asked nicely he would come out of retirement and do another one for me so I could catch it on film!

Anyway, Vitaly is currently the head coach at the Olympic Training Center.  It’s great because every time we have a national training camp at the OTC I get to see him!

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Sho's Coaches – Part 1

27 Jul Sho 1 Comment »

This week, I’d like to do something different and introduce some of the great coaches I’ve had over the years by pulling up some YouTube footage of them.  Although I was primarily coached by my father growing up, and trained with Thom Glielmi through college, I’ve had the opportunity to train with a lot different of coaches.  Most of my coaches competed in the Olympics and/or were world champions at one point in their careers.  I’ve been very lucky to have had the chance to work with them and I definitely look up to them for all they’ve done.

First I’d like to introduce Mutsumi (Harada).  Mutsumi came from Japan and helped coached the Stanford team during the ’05-06 season.  He is an awesome guy and it was great to be able to work with him and get his input during his stay.  In his prime, he competed at the 1999 World Championships and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney for Japan.  He was a very powerful gymnast in his day and also graduated from the same university as Hiroyuki Tomita and is currently an assistant coach there.

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Future Stars of Gymnastics

This weekend I spent some time in sunny Santa Cruz and coached at the Northern California Future Stars Camp.  As always, the camp director, Michelle Huffman did an awesome job with organizing the event.  This camp is always fun for me because I can get a first-hand look at some of the boys that will eventually become the backbone of Northern California gymnastics (and even the US!).  I also had  the chance to catch up with some close friends and coaches, as well as meet a lot of great parents.

However, I’ve gotta say that the best part about coming to camp is that the kids always remind me the most important thing about gymnastics and life in general, which is to remember to have fun and enjoy the process.  Gymnastics shouldn’t just be about winning.  The kids always seem to remind me of this  because regardless of how good or bad their workout goes, you can tell that they’re always having a good time.  This is something that many elite athletes forget when they are constantly under the pressure to win.  However, it’s always important to go back and remember that it’s the process that matters the most and not just the end product.

Nor Cal Future Stars!

Nor Cal Future Stars!

That said, I had a very good time this weekend.  I’m definitely looking forward to coming back to camp next year and seeing everyone again!

Best at Both

23 Jul Sho 1 Comment »

A quick update about the ’08-’09 Stanford Men’s Gymnastics Team.  We were honored as the team with the highest GPA out of all NCAA gymnastics teams.  Apparently by winning the NCAA Championships and also getting the highest team GPA, we made history:

Stanford set a new standard in men’s gymnastics by becoming the first team in the sport’s long history to win the national academic team title and the NCAA team championship in the same year. Stanford earned the 2009 national academic title by combining for a team grade point average of 3.394.This past April, the Cardinal captured their fourth NCAA title in team history by defeating second-place Michigan by 1.3 points. Just as at the NCAA Championships, a total team effort was used to compile the highest team GPA in the nation.

'08-'09 Stanford Men's Gymnastics

'08-'09 Stanford Men's Gymnastics

We also had 9 guys honored as individual scholar-athletes:

Abinav Ramani led Stanford with the highest team GPA and was joined by teammates Lucas Hughes and Kyle Oi on the first team.

Team Captain and Stanford’s male Pac-10 conference medal award winner Sho Nakamori led the six second team members.

Congrats to all the guys for all the work in the classroom.  I’m glad I was a part of it.  Luckily no more hittin’ the books for me…at least not for a while!

Check out the release here: Clean Sweep: NCAA Champ Men’s Gymnastics Also Earns Top Team Academic Award

Opportunity in Disguise

The MRI I took yesterday told me that I tore my ACL after the high bar landing at the Japan Cup.  Right now we’re in the process of scheduling a day to get it surgically repaired (hopefully sometime next week).  While I’m definitely bummed about getting hurt, I’ve never thought to myself that going through all the injuries is not worth it.  Gymnastics is a constant battle between pain and injuries and I do this sport because of that drive I have inside me to one day make the Olympic team.

For some reason, I see this injury as an opportunity in disguise.  Yes, it’ll take hours upon hours of rehab, but at the same time, I’ll be able to put a lot of focus on strengthening my upper-body.   My leg injury will also give me some time to go back to square one and fix all the basics that I haven’t been able to work on in a while.  If this injury thinks it can hold me back, I’ll prove it wrong because I haven’t been this fired up about training in a while.  In the long run, I have a feeling that this injury is going to make me a better gymnast.  I’ll come out of this thing stronger than before.

I can name many gymnasts who have gotten stronger after coming back from a similar injury.  Good friends of mine like Jason Gatson and Justin Spring rebounded back and made the Olympics in the end.  I’ve also talked to another good friend,  Hisashi Mizutori (Olympic gold medalist from Japan) who told me that he tore his ACL a year and a half before the Athens Games.  He said he used his rehab period to strengthen his ring set, an event that was by far his worst event prior to the injury.  However, he had gotten so strong by the end that  he was picked to do the rings during the team competition at the Olympics.    That said, I’m really looking forward to take what happened and turn it into a positive thing!  Keep checking back in to see my progress.

Justin Spring

Justin Spring's come back after knee injury in 2007

My friend, Hisashi, who made the Olympics after his ACL injury

My friend, Hisashi, who made the Olympics after his ACL injury

Cool Gym Tricks

Whenever I’m jetlagged I usually find myself watching a lot of youtube videos.

Well last night I found a pretty sweet gymnastics video full of original skills (caution: the music is kinda weird so maybe mute it).

Some of the skills are long gone from the code like doing circles in a straddle position (not flaired) or doing flips before blocking off the vaulting horse.  I think that roll-out skills are banned for girls also.

Anyway check it out:

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Back Home

After a 9 hour flight from Japan, I’m back home.  While Japan was fun it’s definitely nice to be back in California.  Even though I miss the food it’s just plain hard to beat the Cali weather.  It’s so nice and cool here.

The first thing I did when I got back was go see the doctor about my knee.  Unfortunately getting the MRI got pushed to tomorrow so I won’t exactly know what’s up with it.  For the time being, the doc gave me a knee brace…I feel like the bionic man.

Jet lag is killin me but I’m trying to stay awake.  Time to get back to my normal schedule.  Focus = Training!

Japan Cup '09 – Farewell Party

Yesterday all of us went to the arena to cheer on Danell and Steve for the all-around final.  It’s definitely tough on the body when you have to compete two days in a row.  Your body takes a pretty good beating each time you compete but Danell and Steve both did a great job finishing 7th and 10th, respectively.  As I said before, since we are a young team there is a lot that needs to be learned, however, this competition was definitely a great experience for all of us. There’s no doubt in my mind though that all of us will use this meet as motivation when we get back to our own gyms.

After the competition, all the participants, including the athletes, coaches, etc etc went to a farewell party.  The party took place at a yacht club which was about 40 minutes from our hotel.  Again, the Japanese delegation did an awesome job with all the accommodation and being hospitable.  Not only was the venue really nice but that food was also really good (actually not that surprising considering any kind of food is good here)!

US Team

US Team @ the banquet

The party was fun because all the athletes from all participating countries were able to get together and just hang out.  I always find it cool that we can become good friends even though we are always very competitive on the competition floor.  I guess this is something that they call “friendly rivalry.”  When I really think about it, it’s hard not to become good friends because we all have so much in common.

Left - Kohei Uchimura (Olympic silver medalist), Center - Me, Right - Koji Yamamuro

Left - Kohei Uchimura (Olympic All-Around silver medalist), Right - Koji Yamamuro

R - Zhang Jing, C - Me, R - He Kexin (Olympic Gold medalist)

Right - Zhang Jing, Right - He Kexin (Olympic Gold medalist on Uneven Bars)

Right - Fabian Hambuchen (World Champion on High Bar)

Right - Fabian Hambuchen (World Champion on High Bar)

Anyway, we leave tomorrow to go back to the states.  First thing I’m gonna do when I get back is go to the doctor to get my knee checked.  Even though it’s a bit stiff, I’ve been able to stand so I’m hoping it’s nothing too serious.  I’ll just keep my finger crossed for now!

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