If I were to ask you, who you think the greatest male gymnast of all time is, I wonder who that’ll be. I personally would say it’s Vitaly Scherbo. I mean, the man won 6 out of 8 gold medals at the Barcelona Games in 1992. He holds the record for having the most golds in one Olympics (more than any other gymnast in the history of the sport). Having said that, it’s no mystery why I’ve looked up to him throughout all of my gymnastics career.
Anyway, he brought his gymnasts (he currently owns a gym in Las Vegas) to a local meet that I judged at this weekend. I see him every now and then at competitions and training camps but it was great seeing his kids compete. Like him, a lot of them have great basics. In fact, one of his kids scored a perfect score on pommel horse today. Amazing!
For those of you that don’t know the great Scherbo, here’s a video I pulled up from YouTube:
It’s already been about 2 months since the collegiate season started and we’re moving into the second half of the season. In fact, this weekend is the final home meet (a.k.a. Senior Night) for the Stanford Men’s Team.
Can’t believe it’s almost been a year since I last competed for the Stanford team. Things have been great though, especially because I’ve been able to stay involved with the team as a volunteer assistant coach.
Anyway, the winter Olympics is also in full swing. I’ve been particularly interested in the life stories of the athletes and the different paths they took to get to the Olympics. Most of them had to overcome multiple obstacles in order to get to where they are and it’s been really inspiring. I’m realizing more and more that there’s almost never ever an easy way to get to the Olympics, and that the journey is almost as, or more important than the final result. Watching and reading up on these life stories is making me really fired up for the London Games in 2012.
First thing’s first, though. I have to get completely healthy again. Although I’m not 100% released to do full gymnastics yet, I’m inching my way there. The final challenge is getting my left leg as close to the right leg in both size and strength. I’ve been ramping up my workload in physical therapy and I’ve been enjoying the ride. As my coach at Stanford used to say (and still does), “Strength Comes in the Struggle!”
The Pacific Coast Classic just finished yesterday, and as expectd, it was an excited meet. At the end of the day, the U-21 Japanese team finished 1st ahead of Stanford, similar to last year’s results. The thing I’m most impressed about the Japanese gymnasts is that they really know how to turn up the intensity when it’s go-time. Sometimes if you watch their practices, it might look like they’re not fully prepared, but come time for the competition, they look a different athlete. Anyway, despite some falls on the parallel bars, the Japanese team took the title over the Stanford team.
After the meet, we had a chance to take them back to Stanford campus and hang out for a while. For most of the night, I played the interpreter so that both teams could communicate. It was a great time and I hope the Japanese guys made a lot of great memories during their time here. Anyway, they leave to go back to Japan tomorrow and wish them safe travels.
Another great part about the weekend was the Champions Invite finished successfully. It was a successful competition and it was great to see a lot of teams come out to the competition. Definitely can expect the meet to grow over the next couple of years.
It’s an exciting and busy weekend all together! For one, the Japanese team is here and they’ll be competing against Stanford and other collegiate teams at the Pacific Coast Classic. Unfortunately some of the college powerhouses that are usually here aren’t competing this year (budget reasons?). The meet should be fun nonetheless. We’re also really excited about being able to hang out with the Japanese team after the meet ends! We had the chance to do so last year and had a blast.
Another big event that’s occurring this weekend is the annual Champions Invitational. The gym that I’m currently training at is hosting a large competition for junior level boys. There’s a bunch of California teams in attendance as well as a couple out of state ones. Since the gym has recently moved to a new location and a better facility, it should be a great meet!
After training with us for three days, the Japanese team left to go to the competition arena in Oakland today. I believe they trained at the arena today and will be at training at nearby Cal Berkeley tomorrow before competing on Saturday.
While it was only for a short while, having the opportunity to train with them was great. Even though they’re only the U-21 team, I was impressed with some of the stuff they unveiled and it really showed the depth of the Japanese team as a whole. Some of those guys will definitely climb up the rankings during the next couple of years.
Since yesterday was a lighter training day, I took them out for a quick tour of the Stanford campus before they headed out to the outlets in Gilroy (about an hour south of Stanford). For those of you that don’t know, there’s a custom of buying gifts in Japan, hence their itinerary involves a lot of shopping so that they could buy things for their friends and families back in the homeland.
As an “ambassador” to the Japanese team, It’s been another busy week. I’m glad that I’ve been able to help out though. After all they did a lot for me while I was in Japan. Anyway, I’m hoping that they’re accustomed to the US by now so that they could compete full force this weekend!
After a 9 hour plane ride from Tokyo, the Japanese team got to the Bay Area yesterday morning. From what they told me, they used most of yesterday to go shopping and stayed busy in order to curb their desire to want to sleep. There’s a huge time difference between Japan and the US, and I know from going back and forth that it’s really hard to stay up when you’re coming to the US. I usually “take a nap” in the middle of the day and wake up, only to realize that it’s past midnight.
Anyway, they came to the gym today and we had the opportunity to train with them. Since it was their first day in the gym, they used much of the training time to get acclimated to the environment and to the equipment. Again, I know from experience that American equipment is very different from the ones they use in Japan so it usually takes a while to get used to. Regardless, they looked good and should put up a strong team for the competition this weekend.
Aside from training, it was great to catch up with old friends and coaches. In fact, I trained with two of the gymnasts while I was at Juntendo. It seems like forever since I saw them but in reality it has only been less than a month. Either way, it was fun to be able to hear about their lives and about all of my friends back at the university. It was also great seeing the coaches. In fact, two of them have Stanford ties. Mutsumi (Harada) helped coach the collegiate team from 2005-2006, while the other coach, Koichi (Mizushima), coached me at Stanford back in 1999-2000. In a way, it felt like homecoming.
They’ll be here for a couple more days before they head to Oakland. This time I’ll get to show them around as they did for me back in Japan!
With my cold getting better, I’m off to Livermore tomorrow to help coach the kids at JDR Gymnastics at the Gold Country Classic. For those of you that don’t know, the head coach of JDR Gymnastics, JD Reive, is also the assistant coach for the Stanford Men’s Gym Team. Because the competitive season for the younger kids and the college guys overlap, I try and help out whenever I can. I enjoy it though. It takes me back to the days when I was a little kid.
The cool thing about Gold Country is that there is a college session as well. During tomorrow night’s session, Stanford and Cal will go head-to-head in another Bay Area battle. The good thing about these meets is that the younger kids could get a glimpse of what NCAA gymnastics is all about. This is great considering the number of gymnasts and clubs across the country has been dwindling over the past couple of decades. Whatever to keep the popularity up right? I wonder what it would’ve been like to be doing gymnastics when practically every high school had a gym program (could anybody tell me about this)? That would’ve been awesome.
It was a pretty slow week for me especially with getting sick but I’m hoping to pick it back up starting this weekend. Plus the Japanese team is coming this Sunday to train for a couple days at Stanford before going across the bay to compete at the Pacific Coast Classic next weekend. A bunch of my friends are coming and I can’t wait to see them!
For the last day I’ve been in hibernation. I’m guessing it’s that time of the season but I caught a cold and I sound as though I ate a frog. It’s a bummer but I’m definitely getting better.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow though. I’ll see the doctor for a check-up and I’m hoping that there will be some good news involved. It’s been a little over six months since I had my ACL surgery and I’m hoping to get released for no-restriction, 100% gymnastics. We’ll see what he says though. One thing is for sure. The knee is getting much stronger. I’ve been working with my physical therapist twice a week and I’m starting to see more muscle developing around my knee/thigh. Feels like I’ve come a long way from the days when my leg looked like a toothpick. More training is needed though. With my cold much better, it’s back to the gym again tomorrow.
It was another busy week for me, both in and out of the gym. The combination of my part-time tutoring job, getting settled down after coming back from Japan, and practices have kept me running around the past few weeks. The fact that it’s also competition season is making things just a bit more hectic. I’m pretty much on-the-go every weekend with either coaching or judging. In fact, I just came back from judging at a local competition a little while ago.
However, the big thing that happened this week was that the Winter Cup Challenge took place. For us, US gymnasts, there are two big domestic meets every year. The Winter Cup Challenge is held every February, while the US Championships takes place every August. Both competitions serve as re-ranking meets for the national team.
Unfortunately, given that I’m still rehabbing my knee, I was not able to participate this time around. After all, I have not had enough time since the surgery for me to be safely competing again. My coach and I figured that the best thing for me to do right now is to continue to keep the big picture in mind and take the time to fully heal up before returning to competition again. Our expected return is in the summer for the US Championships. Despite not being able to compete, the fact that the Winter Cup took place had a fairly large impact on me. After reading the meet report online, I got even more motivated about returning to the floor again. While I’m anxious about returning, I have to keep in mind that I need to stay patient and not get ahead of myself . Nevertheless, training over the next couple of months will be very exciting.
So the NCAA season is pretty much in full swing right now. While I’m glad that I’m not competing every weekend (it gets pretty tough on the body), I do miss traveling to different places and being able to compete for your teammates.
Good news is, I’m not completely removed from Stanford gymnastics. This year, I’m a volunteer assistant coach for the team. Hopefully they’ll do well this year so that I could get another championship ring, but this time as a coach!
At this point, it’s really hard to predict who’s the best because it’s still early in the season. Plus a lot of teams have not put out their full line-ups yet and are adjusting to peak in April for the NCAA Championships.
Anyway, below is the promo video for the Stanford team. Check it out!