Issued in the style koriyama vol. January 2018
Interviewing the former Olympians at “BRIDGESTONE×Olympics×Paralympics a Go Go! in Koriyama”
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is on the way!!
On 18th November 2017, Olympians and Paralympians gathered around at Koriyama Gymnasium and Gunshin Kaiseizan Pool. At the events, anyone from adults to children enjoyed various programs such as the sports festival and sports lessons. This time, we had an amazing opportunity to interview two two-time Olympians, the figure skater, Takeshi Honda from Koriyama City and the rhythmic gymnast, Airi Hatakeyama.
Mr. Takeshi Honda
From Koriyama City, Fukushima.
Honda participated at the Nagano Olympics as the youngest-ever Olympians (16 years old) in Japan at that time. He finished in 4th place at 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic. He is the first Japanese skater who completed a quadruple jump successfully in competition. Currently he works as a professional figure skater as well as a coach, developing the next figure skaters.
His favorite things about Fukushima
Steamed bean-jam bun, Yubeshi (Sweet yuzu flavored steamed dumpling) and Onsen (hot springs) in Aizu
How did you start figure skating?
My older brother was learning speed skating at Koriyama Skate Center (current Amuse Park), so I started skating because of him. I practiced skating everyday for about 8 hours in total before and after school when I was an elementary school student. Then I went to Sendai to learn skating by the time I became a junior high school student.
Looking back, what was something that you found it difficult during your career?
Back then, figure skating was not a popular sport in Japan, so the skating environment and the facilities in Japan were quite behind compared to world standards. There was no connection with overseas as well. I was competing well in junior international competitions, but after shifting to senior, I found a big gap with the world.
How did you cope when you faced big problems?
I am a kind of person who forgets bad things quickly, so I try not to think about it.
For instance, I spent some time with friends at an arcade game.
What are you up to next?
Now I am a professional figure skater, while I teach figure skating in a school in Osaka. I would like to expand the popularity of figure skating through coaching
Please leave us some message for children who play sports.
Anyway, I want you to enjoy it. Taking figure skating as an example, I want you to feel that “figure skating is fun”. To do this, it is important that you keep thinking what and how you want to do. It is said that figure skaters’ career as a competitive player lasts around 10 years as the longest, so I hope your interest in skating continues even after the end of the career as a competitive player.
Miss. Airi Hatakeyama
Started rhythmic gymnastics at the age of six, Hatakeyama passed the audition for the Japanese national team, Fairy Japan at the age of 15. As a group rhythmic gymnast, she participated at the London Olympics and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and finished in 7th and 8th place respectively. She ended her career as a competitive player after the Rio Olympics. Currently she works in various fields such as coaching, lecturing and in media.
How did you start rhythmic gymnastics?
My mum took me to a sport event, and I found that rhythmic gymnastics look beautiful and fun. I think these events provide a great opportunity.
Tell me about when you were a teenager.
When I was 14, I injured my back. Until then, I had been playing because it was fun and I liked it. But after the injury, I started to think “ Why? It is not fun at all. I don’t know if I can enjoy anymore”. It was the time I thought I would give up rhythmic gymnastics.
How did you address big problems?
When things don’t go well, I was overwhelmed at having to answer high expectations. But it is important to reset yourself. Then I was able to bring back the feeling that “I love rhythmic gymnastics and it’s so much fun”.
When did you start to aim for competing in international competitions?
When I was 12, I went to the final in the National Championship for Elementary School Students. Then I though, the next is the international competitions.
What are you up to next?
Now, I do anything that I am interested. I want to challenge myself. I also want to get involved in sports media.
Please give us a message for children who play sports.
It is important that you enjoy it. It is okay to have a big goal, but it is more important that you have a small goal everyday and complete it. Then you can get closer to your dream. Everyone, do it little by little.
At the events, athletes who are active in the front lines interacted with children through sports and games.
Kosuke Hagino (Swimming/Competitive Swimming)
Blonde Medalist in the 400m Individual Medley at the 2012 London Olympics
Gold Medalist in the 400m Individual Medley at the 2016 Rio Olympics ↓
Mika Sugimoto (Judo)
Silver Medalist in the heavyweight (+78 kg) division at the 2012 London Olympics↓
Shizuka Hangai (Judo for Visually Impaired People) From Fukushima↓