Olympic Silver medallist Tomoka Takeuchi: “I'm still the same person!”
It's been more than six months that Tomoka Takeuchi wrote history at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
On February 19, in the parallel giant slalom event, the 30-year-old native from this year's World Cup host Asahikawa won Silver becoming the first woman from Asia to ever win a medal in Olympic snowboard history.
Ever since, a lot has changed for Takeuchi who recently decided to go for another Olympic circle. FISSnowboard.com had the chance to chat with the regular rider about the past months and what to expect from her next winter.
FISSnowboard.com: Tomoka, how has your life changed since Sochi?
Tomoka Takeuchi: For me as a person, nothing changed. I'm still the same although winning Silver at Sochi is for sure my biggest achievement so far.
The media definitely shows more interest in what I'm doing now, and a lot of Japanese got to know alpine snowboarding due to the Sochi event. They are also more interested in it, especially because of the re-run format.
Because of this interest and my good results, Asahikawa decided to come back as a World Cup host next season. In addition, we have a Japanese TV station which will broadcast the World Cup and the up-coming World Championships.
Besides being your biggest success so far – how important was Silver for you and your country?
Alpine Snowboarding is having some tough times in Japan right now. We don't have that many riders at the World Cup events, and also the quota list doesn't look good. Therefore, the medal was very important for the youth.
I hope, that my medal brings more young athletes to our sport who will try to do the same: get to the Olympics and win a medal. Currently, there are too many who think it's too hard to have Olympic success in the parallel disciplines.
So, you always believed in your podium chance?
I always believed in myself. You cannot be successful without self confidence. No matter if it's business or sport.
Actually I was going for Gold, I wanted to win the event. This is what drives me to go for four more years.
So, another full Olympic circle for you?
Yes. I was thinking a lot if I should retire or go on, and I also played a bit with the idea of an one-year break. But in the end, my sponsors wanted to go on and keep on supporting me.
In addition, I spent a lot of time with the national media over the past months, and I noticed that I lost my heart to snowboarding. So I had to go on.
How was your preparation for the up-coming season?
From Sochi to end of June I barely had time to train at all. I was running from appointment to appointment. But thereafter, I was able to invest at least three hours a day for some basic training.
I'm lucky to have some pro coaches at my side who are able to get the maximum out of some rare time.
Actually, I'm feeling better than last summer. I guess I had a better focus on the training, and we tried some new stuff as well. And of course, I also enjoyed three weeks on snow in Saas-Fee. I love being on snow.
What are your goals for the new season?
I want to win the Overall Alpine Snowboard World Cup as well as a medal at the World Championships. But the most important thing is to stay true to yourself and enjoy what you do.
How about Asahikawa? How do you feel that your hometown is ready for another World Cup event with the last dating back to 2001?
It was always my goal to have the World Cup circuit back in Japan.
A World Cup event in my hometown Asahikawa is something very special for me. We didn't had any World Cup races in Japan since 2007, which made it pretty tough for the up-coming talents as well. It was a motivation killer for them.
It's very important for the young riders to see their heros and compete with them face to face.
I'm hoping that Japan will have a strong team for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. It would help our sport in Asia and worldwide.