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Sad Day for the Bears…

29 Sep shonakamori 2 Comments »

I’m sure most everybody heard about this already but in case you haven’t, in devastating news, the chancellor at UC Berekely decided to drop 5 athletics programs.  All of them will be done at the end of this school year.  Included was men’s gymnastics…

Honestly, it never mattered that I went to the “rival” school.  Having grown up in Berkeley, I always felt a close connection to the Cal team and the gymnasts there.  Some of my best memories competing at the collegiate level (aside from the ones with my own teammates) involved the friendly rivalry we had with Cal; the occasional smack-talking, shooting the breeze, and hanging out and catching up after our meet ended.  Not to mention, we always felt that we were especially close and knew we had each other’s backs when we went to bigger meets, such as conference and national championships.  It’s really sad to know that there will be one less program in the NCAA at the end of this coming season.  Worse yet, it’s even more sad to know that men’s gymnastics is getting cut from the best public school in the US, which means that the younger gymnasts will no longer have the opportunity to do gymnastics and be a student at one of the top schools in the entire country.

It’s a really sad time for everybody in the gym community.

Definitely wishing them the best of luck in their final season.

Bring us to the White House!

27 Sep shonakamori No Comments »

Workouts have been going well over the last several weeks.  I’ve been focusing a lot of my attention on acquiring new skills and upgrading my routines.  This is the perfect time to do so since I still have several months until I have to compete again.  At the same time, this is also a good time to ramp up the conditioning level since, which is exactly what I’m going to be focusing on this week.  With how long routines have gotten under the “open-ended code,” you can never be too strong these days!

Out of the gym was highlighted by a Bar Mitzvah of a boy (I guess not a boy anymore!) that I’ve been tutoring for a while in Japanese.  The weekend was perfect weather for a party and we all had a great time!

On a rather unrelated note, my teammates and I started a petition to bring our team and the rest of the NCAA Championship winning team from 2009 to the White House.  It’s been a tradition for the President to meet teams who won NCAA Championships at the White House – President Bush met with championship teams during his tenure.  However, in 2009, President Obama met with only a handful of teams but left out the majority of the other teams.  We thought that this tradition ended but realized it wasn’t so.  In September 2010, President Obama met with NCAA Championship teams. Naturally we were all bummed when we heard this.  That said, we’re trying to some support in bringing the teams back for a chance to be a part of this tradition.  If you all can sign this petition that will be great.  It will only take a couple of seconds: NCAA Petition.

Thanks in advance!


20 Sep shonakamori No Comments »

Had a pretty eventful weekend as Saturday was the annual National Gymnastics Day.  Made a couple of appreances at local gyms and had a great time interacting with some of the kids and their parents.  Nothing too fancy, but at one of the event, I did a short demo on the rings.  Don’t think I’ve ever done rings outside of an indoor gym, but I suppose there’s a first time for everything!

Demo on rings

For the rest of the weekend, I went home and just relaxed to unwind.  Now that I’m recharged I’m looking forward to getting a ton of work done both in and outside of the gym!  Let’s git ‘er done!

Getting Older!

16 Sep shonakamori 2 Comments »

I had a pretty busy but fun-filled week last week.  Aside from my usual training and work outside of the gym, I celebrated my 25th birthday.  I kept it fairly low key but had a very nice day full of surprises. I definitely wanted to take this opportunity to say a quick thanks to all the people who wished me happy birthday!

As  I get older, I like to reassess where I’m at physically, especially in this demanding sport called gymnastics.  They say age is just a number, but is it true?  I definitely feel young in my mind, but I’m not sure if I can trick my body (physical) into thinking the same.  As I get older, I’m realizing more and more that I don’t recover as quickly as I used to when I was a teen.

What this also means is that I’m taking less turns in training.  However, I’ve come to realize that this is not a bad thing at all. Because of the limited turns, I’ve learned to make sure that every single turn on the equipment is meaningful and that I’m making a deliberate effort to make a change.  When I was younger, it didn’t matter how many turns I took.  My body would rebound instantly.  I could make gradual changes and it didn’t matter, as long as I was moving in the right direction.  This definitely isn’t the case anymore….

If I did the same thing, my body’ll disintegrate for sure.  But at the same time, I do believe that taking a ton of turns when I you’re young can be beneficial.  A ton of the skills I trained when I was younger are ingrained in me and I can rely on muscle memory to get me through them.
Different age = different training style, I suppose.

Speaking of age, school is starting back up again.  Not that this has much to do with me as I’ve already graduated but I’m seeing new students and their parents roll onto campus.  I remember my first day of college…green and inexperienced but the great thing for me was having grown up in the Stanford gym.  Although academics and school life was tough to get used to, I found comfort in the gym as I trained there my entire life.  Anyway, I’m hoping to find some time in my schedule to be a volunteer assistant coach again this season.  Good luck to all the new students coming in!

Kevin Visits!

08 Sep shonakamori No Comments »

Workouts these past couple of days have been fun because I had a visitor come in and train with me.  That visitor was Kevin Tan, a good friend of mine, and also a medalist from the 2008 Olympics.

Kevin and I have not only represented the US as members of the national team, but we go way back as we both grew up in the Bay Area.  That said, we have a pretty strong connection, and I consider him to be like my big brother.

Through our training sessions we were able to share our thoughts and techniques on certain skills, which is always fun and helpful.  Although he left to go back to the east coast, I know he’ll be working hard.  Knowing this is a good thing because it’ll be a reminder for me to work harder so that I can push myself to the next level.  Can’t wait to see him and the rest of the guys in competition-mode in the near future!

Kevin, Jinjing (my coach), and me at the gym

Fun in the Gym!

01 Sep shonakamori 4 Comments »

It’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to have fun in the gym by training new skills.  Most of my time over this last year was chewed up by rehab and trying to get back into competitive shape.  Looking back, I’m glad I got over my second-thoughts and apprehension about competing, and actually went with it.  At one point my knee had flared up so badly that I got really worried about competing, however, training for it allowed me to push my body to a new level.  If I had stretched my comeback meet until next year, I’m pretty certain that I wouldn’t be feeling the same at this point in time.

Now it’s back to the gym and working new skills to increase the difficulties in my sets. Working new skills can be challenging but fun at the same time.  I have until the beginning of next year until I have to compete again so I can give myself a bit of a mental break also.  Thank goodness for being done with college too.  I see the younger guys getting ready for school to start and I’m reminded of how stressed I used to be.  Working is fairly stressful at times but it’s definitely a different type.  You’re not asked to prepare for 3 tests and write a 15-page paper in one week.

With summer coming to a close, I’ve been enjoying some activities outside of the gym as well.  Last weekend, I had the chance to see Dave Matthews Band in concert. It was an awesome show!

Back At It

24 Aug shonakamori 2 Comments »

I never realized how much stress you put you body under when you compete until I finished competing at USA’s this year.  Although we simulated a two-day meet in practice to prepare for competition, competing and simulating is a completely different story.  How did I realized this?…my knee was pretty shot for a couple of days after the meet.

However, after taking several days off, my knee feels a lot better, if not stronger than before.  Regardless of the result, I’m glad that I took this opportunity to compete and get my feet wet again.  Through the entire process, it helped me gain a better understanding of my body and realize how much I can actually push myself.  Competing again also allowed me to see where I’m at and observe the other competitors as well.

Now that I have several months to train until the next competition, it’s back to the gym, hitting basics, new skills, and conditioning.  I’m finally feeling like I’m at the point where I am capable of improving and getting stronger (physically).  Whereas over the last year, I was playing catch up because I was rehabbing the entire time.

Switching subjects but I had a bit of an eventful weekend.  I was asked to be a featured presenter for the Region 1 Gymnastics Congress.  I was a bit nervous leading up to it because I was called up last minute and didn’t have much time to prepare, however, all in all I think it went pretty well.  Now it’s back to the daily grind as always!

Next Step

17 Aug shonakamori 5 Comments »

It’s been several days since USA’s ended and I apologize once again for the delay in putting up a new post.  The very next day after the meet ended, I went up to New York to visit some old friends of mine, and currently, I’m in Washington DC, visiting my sister who works here.

Anyway, I’d like to back-track several days to the competition to fill you all in.  As many of you probably already know, this year’s USAs was my first meet back in over a year because of the knee surgery I had at the end of summer last year.  Naturally I was excited about being back on the floor again, but I’ll have to admit that there were definitely some pre-meet jitters because it had been so long since I saluted a judge last.  However, it wasn’t long before I felt right at home competing again and performing in front of the crowds.  Between the two days, aside from making one big and clear mistake when I came off of the pommel horse, everything else was pretty much the same as I’ve been doing in practice during the preparation process.  Unfortunately, I will not deny the fact that my final results wasn’t a great reflection of this.  When the meet ended and the dust settled, I was unable to get myself back onto the US National Team.

My coach and I had actually talked about this long before this meet even started.  Our main goal for this meet was simply to get back in there and compete, and not worry about the outcome.  Since I only got fully cleared by the doctor about four months ago, we decided that it would be best to keep our difficulties low.  We figured that this would help us avoid the risk of reinjury, something that’s especially important at this point in the game.  Naturally, this helped me improve my chances of hitting my routines, nonetheless, with the lack of difficulty, it made it tough for me to receive a high score even when I did hit.  Despite having known this all this time, not seeing my name as part of the national team was definitely a difficult thing to swallow.  I was clearly disappointed…

This has a lot to do with my competitive side.  It constantly yearns to be at the top of the game despite any circumstances.  However, after some talks with my coach and doing some reflecting on all that’s happened to me over this entire year, I realized that the fact that I was able to get through these two days of competition rather consistently was an accomplishment in itself.

I’ll admit that there were definitely still some pain in my leg, especially during the second day of competition, but the fact that I was able to get through them safely definitely boosted my confidence.  Just the fact of competing again allowed me to create a starting point – a place where I can begin to build on as my knee continues to recover to full health.

My coach made it mandatory to take a break for a bit.  After several days of taking some time off to heal some of the aches and pains, and to refresh my mind, I’ll be more than ready to get back in the gym again to begin building again.  The next domestic competition will be in February and I’m definitely very excited to get stronger and prepare again.  On to the next step!

Game Time

10 Aug shonakamori 2 Comments »

I’m getting ready to compete for the first time in over a year so I’ve been taking this time to reflect on all that’s happened to me since getting my knee repaired.  Honestly, after having my surgery after last year’s Japan Cup, it was difficult for me to look too far into the future as, initially, everything was a day by day process.  After all, the first couple of months consisted of only doing quad tighteners and straight leg raises in rehab.  Boy, those were painfully boring! Simple daily tasks as walking to the bathroom was painful.  Not to mention I was locked in at a 45 degree knee bend for those first few months.

Mornings were the worst as I’d wake up feeling stiff as a board.  It took a substantial amount of warming up to gain the mobility for my knee to bend. I did get pretty skilled on those crutches though. However, there were several close calls when I tripped on them and felt like I might’ve reinjured it.  Took some mobility tests by the therapists and docs to reassure that it was alright!

The most exciting news though was getting that green light to start training again.  Obviously it was a gradual increase in numbers and intensity but it was a great feeling to know that the days of intensive rehab had paid off.

However, with the support of the people around me, I’ve managed to build myself back up to the point where I’m able to compete again.  Although I’m not quite 100%, I’m definitely inching my way there.  The plan is to get back in and compete in the sport I enjoy the most.  Lots of ups and downs over this past year but I’m grateful for all the help that I’ve gotten.  This is definitely all part of the journey and I’m ready to continue to build on it!

Me and Jonny during podium training

Reporting from Hartford!

08 Aug shonakamori 6 Comments »

Major apologies for the lack of updates!  Last week was possibly the busiest week yet.  I was busy getting ahead with my work and running errands to make sure that I was ready to go on my trip to Hartford for USA Championships.

The great thing was that training was light all of last week.  My hard cycle was done by that point so we basically focused on lower volume but higher qualities in each of the routines. This was all just part of the tapering process to get my body physically fresh and ready for the competition.  Now that the preparation’s done, it’s time to put on a show!

As for this weekend, I went to my old teammate’s wedding.  It was great seeing him so happy, not to mention that the wedding became a huge reunion for the Stanford Men’s Team!  All of my teammates are doing well in their own respective fields. They’re all out saving the world by working in the computer field, becoming doctors, lawyers, vets, etc.

Now, after a full day of traveling, I’m finally here in Hartford, Connecticut.  It was a long cross-country trip but I made it over without any delays!  I’ll be going to the arena tomorrow to get used to the equipment.  Tuesday will be the same, and then it will be game time on Wednesday.  Thanks again for all the support!  It’ll be fun to be back in the game again!