INTERVIEW OF THE JAPANESE HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASTIC TEAM DURING U.S. TOUR by Frank Endo
Q. Welcome to America. Have anyone of you gymnasts ever been overseas for gymnastic exhibition or competition? A. No, none of us. Thi s is o ur fir st trip to America . Our d e legation c hi e f, M r. Ok amu ra, has b ee n in 1h e States seve ral tim es. (See M.G. Jun e -Jul y '69) Q. How was the team selected? A. We we re c h ose n from o ur Na tion a l Hi g h Sc hoo l Champion sh ips to re present diffe re nt a reas of Ja pa n. Q. From the information received from the Japan Gymnastic Association prior to your arrival, I noted that the No.1 or No.2 gymnasts are not in your group. Why were they excluded? A. Th ey Were se n iors that g radu a te d in mid M a rc h . We are a ll 11th grad e rs but after we return to Ja pan we w ill be senio rs, a nu we wi ll ha ve a no th e r yea r o f hi g h sc h oo l co mp et iti o n . Q. On your first day in the States, you visited Stanford University and saw Ted Marcy working .out on the side horse. What do you gymnasts think about his work? A. He's fanta sti c! He look s better th a n any Jap a nese gymnast. Pomm e l horse is o ur weak es t eve nt. How ma n y m o re a re th e re lik e him? Q. There are many gymnasts specializing in one or more events. Ted Marcy is probably our No.1 side horse gymnast in the cOI,mtry. How many hours do you work out daily? A. Three to lo ur ho u rs a ft e r sc hoo l. We a ll ge t hom e afte r ua rk . Q. You've been in America one day now. 'What is your opinion of this country? A. Yo ur freewa ys a re wi u e. Your ca rs a re big. Your ho m es, bu sin ess a nu shopp in g bu iluings are co lorfu l a nu bright. Se rvin gs of fo ou a t th e restaura nt s a re bi g . We ca n ' t ea t a ll of it!
Q. All of you gymnasts are wearing th e same athletic running shoes and uniforms. Did the Japan Gymnastic Association supply them? A. No , each on e o f u s had to bu y o ur own unifGrm a nd wa rm-up suit fo r thi s trip. Q. Mr. Kubo, as vice-president of your National High School Association, how many gymnasts participate in your National Championships? A. Fo rt y nin e pr efec ture (state) tea ms w ith four gymnasts p e r team. Two additi o na l gymnasts from each pre fectur e may parti c ip a te for a tota l of 294 gymnasts. Q. Do you have compulsories in the Nationals? A. Yes. All . tea ms mu st go thro ug h comp ul so ri es. It tak es two da ys to comp le te th e comp ul so ries. Th e n only th e top 16 tea m s proceed into th e optio n a ls. Altogether the co mp et iti o n tak es three da ys. Q. Does each team provide their own transportation to the Nationals? A. Yes, eac h sc hoo l finan ces the te a m for transport a tion , hot e l and mea ls. Q. Does a high school gymnast ever participate in the All-Japan Senior National Championships? A. Yes, a bout ten go to the Sr. Nationals but they mu st qualify and mu st kno w th e Sr. compulso ri es. Th ey wi ll be on a tea m represe nting their prefectur e. Q. Goto, after watching you during your first workout I noticed that you are very good on 26
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L-R: Nobuyuki Kajitani, Hitoshi Aoki, Shunichi Matsumoto, Kiyoshi Goto, Yoichi Tomita, SakichiTanaka - Team leader, Ryosuke Kubo - Coach, Hirofumi Okamura - Delegation chief.
the parallel bars and high bar. You are sure to do well in the next National High School Championships. When did you start gymnastics? A. I started in junior hi g h sc ho o l a nd fir st competed at the age of 14. I was not good at th e tim e but I loved gy mna sti cs . In fac t, a ll five of us started in juni or high sc hoo l. Now in hi g h sc hoo l, I ha ve a good coac h . I want to w in the All-Ja pan Hi g h School Champion ship s thi s yea r. (C hi co, Ca lif.) Q. Mr. Tanaka, what is your occupation? A. I a m a gy mn as ti cs in stru cto r a t Takasak i Indu strial Hi g h School a nd I also am a ce rtified nati o nal judge. My tea m wo n th e Na ti o na l's la st seaso n. Q. Do you have a gymnastics program throughout the entire year or is it seasonal? A. I wo rk th e gy mna sts hard a ll yea r lo ng even thou g h o ur seaso n is from May to October. Summer vaca ti on is from mid-July to th e en d of Augu st, but we co mp e te during th at time. Q. How many gymnasts do you have on your team? A. Thirteen. Th ey co nsist o f Team #A a nd Tea m#B. Onl y fi ve compe tito rs are o n eac h tea m . Tea m #A is my stron ges t, but Tea m #B is use d w he n I ca n still defeat a wea ke r opponent. Q. How many competitions do you have in a season? A. Appro xi ma te ly six to seve n co mp et itions wh ic h in cl ud e Sta te, Reg io nal , and All-Japan. We co mp e te as a tea m a nd ma ny tea ms compete at th e sa m e tim e. All six Ol ym pi c events a re run Simult a n eous ly. Q. How many high school teams are there in your Gumma Prefecture and in all of Japan? A. The re are a ppro xim a te ly 20 tea m s in Gumma a nd ove r 1,000 in Japa n. Q. During your second exhibition here at Chico State University, you had the opportunity to actually meet, workout, and perform with an American college team for the
first time. What are your feelings about it? A. We we re surpri sed to see ove r 3,200 spectators co me to see us on a rainy ni g ht. We have never performed in th e eve nin g because all of our compet ition s a re he ld during th e d ay. The America n gymnasts are rea ll y fri e ndl y a nd kind . (Los Ange les) Q. Tomita, you had your first taste of competition here and yet you won the allaround championship against the Southern California All-Stars. What is your opinion of the competition? A. Th e a tm osphe re is wo nd e rful . In Ja pan w e co mpet e o nl y as a tea m and th e fee lin g of co mp e tin g as an indi vidu a l is quit e different. I cons id e r m yse lf lu cky. America n gym na sts are rea l fr ie ndl y eve n in d e feat , a nd I lik e th e ir spirit. You r specia li sts a re ve ry impress ive . After a n Ame ri ca n gymna st di smount s I was surpri sed to see th e ha nd sh a kin g a nd ba ck slappi n g th at goes on . I li ke th a t sp irit. Th at neve r happen s in Japa n. Q. How do you rank in the All-Japan High School Meet and what are your favorite events? A. La st August I ra nk e d third in th e All-J apan Meet. M y favorite events a re hi g h bar, sid e ho rse anu parallel bars. I sco re u 9.4, 9j, a nu 9.35 res pec ti ve ly. Q. Tomita, you are fairly tall for a Japanese gymnast. How tall are you? A. I am 5 ft. 8 in c hes ta ll. I was th e tall est gy mna st a t th e All-J apa n High Sc hoo l Me e t. Q. Are you on any diet of any sort? A. No, I am not. I' m not particul a r abo ut wh a t I ea t. I rea ll y like yo ur orange jui ce a nd ice c rea m . Q. How many meets do you compete in during a season? A. Within my own prefectu re (s ta te) I h ave fo ur m ee ts. In au uiti on, o ur 路team co mpet es in th e Na ti ona l Ph ys ica l Meet a nd th e All-Japa n Hi g h Schoo l C ha mpi o nships. I und e rsta nd th a t th e American gy mnas ts have more m eets. I fee l