2011 was a year of many ups and downs for Japan, but the one that really sticks in our minds is the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Northern Japan in the spring of last year.
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been a year since the event. The situation is much better now but I know that in a lot of the northern areas, people are still working hard to rebuild. The other day, I received an invitation from the Consul General of Japan for a gathering in San Francisco to remember those who were affected by the event.
I’ll be attending the gathering on behalf of everyone from the NorCal and Region 1 gymnastics communities that helped donate. At this time, I wanted to say another thank you to everyone that put in money and helped support the cause!
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to judge the Spartan Open! It was exciting for me for several reasons. For one, this was a meet that I used to compete at when I was younger. I think the last time I competed at that meet was when I was like 10 or 11. I remember cranking for my high bar dismount and peeling right off…my dad (my coach then) was totally angry at me. Luckily, that was just about the only bad memory I have of the meet. Oh wait…I also remember messing up my floor pattern, and again, my dad was upset at me for that. Other memories are a little more fond though!
But the more exciting thing about Spartan Open was that they haven’t had a men’s meet at San Jose State since 1996! Hence, to see men’s equipment in that gym made me feel super nostalgic!
I can’t believe it’s been that long since San Jose State dropped their program. Really sad to think that there are only two colleges left with gymnastics programs on the west side of the Rockies (just Stanford and Cal). At least until the mid 90s, there were schools like UCSB, San Jose State, and New Mexico with gym programs. It’s really interesting for me to hear from older coaches about what it was like back in the day. Almost every major college had a gymnastics program. How much cooler will it be at conference and national championships with that many teams?
Word on the street though is some people are trying to get together to bring back the San Jose team, at least at the club level. I know it’s easier said than done but if that happens, that would be awesome!
With the Japanese team in the gym last week, I’ve gotta say that it was extra motivating and fun during training! It was especially nice to be able to get some feedback from my old coach, Mutsumi! He’s an extremely technical coach and it’s always nice to get his perspective on how to execute different skills.
After a week of training at Stanford, the Japanese guys joined in for a tri-meet against Cal and Stanford. Although there were a few mistakes from each team, the Japanese team ended up taking the win! Pretty impressive considering they only brought seven athletes! In college, you can compete up to 15 athletes and put up 6 of your best guys on each event with the top four scores counting. Since the Japanese team only brought 7 guys, that meant they were only able to rest one guy per event. Either way, it was an exciting night and I hope they had a great experience being able to compete in front of American crowds. I know from experience that Japanese meets could be very quiet. However, college meets in the US, are the exact opposite…super rowdy!
Luckily, this time around, we were able to finish the week off without any major accidents or illnesses. Like I said in the last post, there was a guy last year that had to be taken to the ER. Nothing like that this year.
The team left early this morning so they should be back in Japan by now. Good luck to them in the training and future competitions! Also, thanks to Mutsumi for the super sweet backpack (picture below)!
Well, it’s time for the annual meet against the Japanese team (for Stanford). And again, they’ve brought over a group of very talented under-21 gymnasts! I’ll be helping them throughout the week with translating and getting them situated. Last year there was a slight incident with one of the team members, and we had to make a quick trip to the emergency room (luckily he ended up being ok). Hopefully things will be much better this time ::knock on wood::!!!
Super excited to see my old coach, Mutsumi Harada, again. Mutsumi was a 2000 Olympian for the Japanese team, and he actually helped coach the Stanford team when I was a sophomore so he has some ties to the program here.
Stanford will take on Cal and the U-21 Japanese team on Saturday @ 7pm. It’ll be an exciting meet. Hope many of you will be able to make it out!
It’s been far too long since the last post and I apologize. When I got back from Winter Cup last weekend, I got swamped with so much work that I kind of had to put all the updating on hold. I haven’t been able to get on twitter all that much either! Speaking of which, if you aren’t following me on twitter, please do so here!
Anyway, last weekend was a pretty big weekend for me with Winter Cup. I have to say though that for the most part, things went pretty well. I was able to get through the two days of competition without any major mistakes. Since the plan was to go 12 for 12, I was fairly happy with how things went. Now it’s back in the gym and gearing up for the last few meets of my career. USA Championships, which is the qualifiers for the Olympic Trials (they are only taking 15 from USAs to compete at Trials), is happening in only 4 months. Time is definitely flying by, and with these competitions right around the corner, the intensity is building pretty rapidly. Although it can get a bit tough every once in a while, I’m trying my best to keep my head-down and put the blinders on. Luckily for me, I’ve got other things going on in my life, such as work to keep me balanced and sane!
I promise to get on here more consistently and post. Thanks for the continued support! The road to London continues!