To win the '99 World Championships in Birmingham and win this 16th Fukuoka Championship. I personally place a lot of attention on this tournament because Fukuoka is my hometown and this was the site of my first international competition. Also at the end of this year in December, the 17th Fukuoka Championship will be held and if I win this one, it will be my 10th consecutive victory at the Fukuoka Tournament. Therefore for this year the '99 World Championships and the Fukuoka Tournament are very important for me.
Q: How has the change in weight class or use of the blue judogi affected you as a competitor? Has it been positive or negative for you?
As a competitor it doesn't matter. I only concentrate on fighting. Using the blue judogi has demonstrated that Judo is more and more becoming a worldwide sport, because Japanese judokas would probably not use it.
wn-bb-1511.jpg (13345 bytes)Q: Who was the toughest judoka to match up against that you enjoyed competing against?
I think it is Karen Briggs. When I was in elementary school I once had the opportunity to visit the Fukuoka Tournament and I saw her competing. She really was good in both technic and force. Later on, I had a chance to fight her during the Fukuoka Tournament and won although I thought it was a purely by chance. Actually, it was after I beat her that I started to have confidence in myself in international judo matches.
Q: How do you feel about your chances to finally win the gold medal at the Olympics in 2000?
I have confidence that I will win the gold medal. I do not think that I have a specific rival. All the judokas who will compete against me are my rivals. People were expecting me to win gold medal in Atlanta, however I got silver. What happened at that time was that after I won against the Cuban, Savon, I thought that the Gold medal was already mine and I started to become too confident in myself. I think that was my mistake, so in Sydney I will not relax until the final match is completed.
Q: What are you doing now and what do you like to do in your free time?
I like driving a lot and of course I like speed. I have a Toyota Majesta and it's actually my mom's car. Also I like traditional japanese hot bathes and shopping.!!
Q: Which judokas do you admire watching the most, why?
For men I enjoy watching, Koga. Koga's ippon seionage is perfect. For women, I like to watch my self on video
Q: What were the most important things you learned from judo?
Two main important things. One is Rey, which is respect for other people and the other thing that I have learned is that whatever I do, I do my best.
Q: What is your daily schedule?
I practice judo 3 hours a day. During the early morning time, I do running. From 09:00 to 12:00 I study for my master course and also I go to the office of Toyota where I work. In the afternoon I practive judo. And what turns me on is a hot japanese bath after a hard judo training. I cannot miss it.
Q: How did you start learning judo?
I have an older brother that is 3 years older than me and he started judo when I was 8 years old. At that time, I started judo just because my brother was doing judo and I wanted to do the same and follow my brother. My parents, who never did judo, at that time were against me doing judo however I just kept asking them. Now they fully support me and my mother is with me whenever and wherever I go for competitions.