Hiroyuki Tomita – Beyond the Competition

Another post I’ve been wanting to do for a while, seems fitting to go with my short absence. Hiroyuki Tomita is a guy I only got to know at this Olympics. Although he wasn’t the star of the tournament, he made a lasting impression to me. Most people may remember him (for the wrong reason) as the guy who fell of the rings, but to me, he is a fighter.

At first during the qualifications, my interest was piqued because he always seemed so tense and unsmiling, even after he’s performed well. So I sort of rooted for him for the rest of the time, because I thought, if he’s won a medal, there’d be no reason not to smile. Haha but when he won silver in the team, he didn’t really smile much at all, maybe just a little, but hardly the big, teethy grin I was hoping to see.

The closest to a smile in the competition

The closest to a smile in the competition

So then I employ the use of the Internet’s second most powerful weapon – Youtube. I found lots of footage of his past performances. His memorable Athens high bar routine, and his all-around title in the Worlds. (And it was in the year before the scoring system changed too.) From his Beijing stint I knew he was classy, but I didn’t know he was that good. Then again, he had to be experienced enough to have that degree of nonchalance and coolness about him. I also found this on the tube:

1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ngt5uExZ200
2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErekFcXWvxM

It’s an interview with him by that guy from Arashi (no wonder he looked so pretty) before the Beijing Olympics. Anyway, after watching that, all the mystery surrounding Tomita somehow disappears. I thought that would somewhat diffuse my interest in him, but it hasn’t. He’s just such a simple guy (he doesn’t even have a bookshelf or CD rack at home, just a Tv) who is so focused and so hardworking, which explains the serious look during competition. From the interview, you can really see that gymnastics is his life. He’s usually pretty quiet and doesn’t speak much, and gives really short answers when asked about personal stuff. But when asked about gymnastics or anything related to it, he just lightens up and starts talking a lot (even though I don’t really know what he’s saying, he just seems so much more animated). Oh, and he does smile when talking to people. I suppose he just finds it weird to smile at cameras during the competition.

He’s also pretty humble in the sense that, when Sakurai asked if he thought talent or practice is more important in gymnastics, he chose the latter. He then launches into a pretty lengthy (for his standards) explanation of why he thought so, which I obviously didn’t understand. Even though Japan is a pretty advanced country, I don’t think they put so much into sports like US or China. That’s why their athletes are more grounded, and gymnasts like Tomita aren’t paid to train, it’s the other way around. Tomita takes care of his own diet, and doesn’t have a special about of intake or what not like Phelps does. (Which by the way, 12000 calories seem ghastly). Well, I think a regular Japanese meal is much much healthier than a regular American meal of burger and fries anyway.

So whats for lunch?

So whats for lunch?

Anyway, Tomita must be really tired now after the Olympics. He actually looked relieved after his routine in the high bar finals, even though he messed up his landing a bit. But as the captain of the team, he did lead them to a silver; it’s just a little disappointing to see him without an individual medal. And he had to lose out in such heartbreaking manner too, falling off the rings. Taking a fall from the rings or high bar has to be the worst, being so far off the ground. Poor Tomita, he looked up at the rings and then at his hand guard, as if to ask “what happened?”, then he just gets up on his feet to acknowledge the crowd.

Oh why did you fail me?

Oh why did you fail me?

That fall really broke my heart. Even more heartbreaking is the fact that he didn’t make any excuses for his fall at all. He just said (jokingly, I think) that he was too tired to hold on to the rings. He still fought on for the rest of the apparatus, because he said he had to give his best, since his teammate Koki Sakamoto qualified higher than him but Tomita was chosen to represent instead. I was personally hoping that the fall wouldn’t have affected his performance in the high bar final, but his routine didn’t have the difficulty to match the others, and he didn’t have a perfect performance. Well, that’s just disappointment from my side. For Tomita, I think he’ll always put beauty and execution ahead of difficulty. The beauty of the sport is probably why he likes it so much, so he’s not going to go the Chinese way and up the difficulty without doing justice to the beauty of the tumbling. I really respect his principle on that, and how he works tirelessly to aim for perfection.

Word is that FIG is going to reduce the number of gymnasts in a team from six to five, meaning that in team competitions they can only send 5 gymnasts. That means that there is a very slim chance that Tomita will see action in London, even though I’ll cling on endlessly to what little hope that’s left. The least I can hope for is that he can stick around for the next two world championships, and sort of redeem himself before bowing out. And until then, I’ll just satisfy myself by watching the clips of him in action on Youtube.

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7 thoughts on “Hiroyuki Tomita – Beyond the Competition

  1. Hi! Nice to see another fan of Hiroyuki Tomita! I admire him very much, and I’ll support him till the very end! He didn’t win any medal at the All-around, even though he needed just 0.175 points to get bronze!
    I admire that he continued his performance till the end, and he also did a great job. Just imagine doing all the routine being in horrible pain( he hurt his shoulder, neck and lower back). He also managed to do it very elegant and beautiful! As he said “It’s not gymnastic if it’s not beautiful!”.
    Lately in Japan he mentioned in a interview that he intents to continue working. His next performance will be on November 15-16th, at the Toyota International Gymnastic Competition.
    If you want to find more information about him, and to share your impressions with other fans of him, please join this Fan Cafe made for Hiroyuki Tomita and his teammate Kohei Uchimura!
    http://hiro-kohcafe.proboards57.com/index.cgi

    We will be glad to have you there! Every fan is welcome!

  2. Madison Lane (maddisonlane.wordpress.com)

    anagulica.wordpress.com

    on Ana Gulica’s page it shows a fansite that I myself and about 150 other users visit daily…log on!

  3. Ana and Francine, I’ve joined the forum to show support for them and also you girls. Although I must say I’m more of a silent supporter (blogging about him is about as vocal as I go), so I’d more likely be lurking around than posting fanatically.

    Yep I’ll be looking forward to his next competition, hopefully there’ll be coverage of it and we can watch it on youtube or something. =)

  4. I’m glad you joined the forum. We appreciate your support! You don’t have to post fanatically there! It’s a site for all kinds of fans. You can write something if you feel like it, or you can just see the updates and find out new things. So don’t feel intimidated by the other girls that are simply crazy about them. Just be yourself!
    Thanks again!

  5. Haha I know, that’s why I joined. Hope we’ll stay strong. You really deserve lots of credit for promoting the forum so much. Great job with that!

  6. Thanks! I just admire Tomita-san so much, that I would do anything to show him our support! Even if he might never see that; the emotions, the admiration for him are always in our heart, and he should feel it!^^

  7. so i’m obsessed with tomita now
    i waited for one whole week to watch his performance on the tv (they have gymnastics show weekly here) as i missed the first one
    but then… they only show women’s gymnastics! call that some encouragement
    i saw him in the first show, but only for a few seconds~
    but it sure made my day happier~
    the power of hiroyuki tomita!

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