Daisuke Takahashi: “Try not to blame yourself too much. If you accept yourself for what you can do, even just a little, it will lead to self-confidence.”
Continuation of the interview with Daisuke Takahashi for NHK.
Translation of the first part: Daisuke Takahashi: “It was challenging. It was incredibly tough. But the joy of achieving something was greater than when I was doing it alone because we worked hard together.”
We have a comment from Misato Komatsubara, who is both a rival and a fellow skater from the same rink in Kurashiki City. I will read her comment aloud: “As someone who admired you since we were young skaters in Okayama, I want to express my heartfelt congratulations on your retirement, a significant decision made by a senior athlete who shared the captivating sport of ice dance with me. It will surely be the beginning of a wonderful journey. Congratulations!” What are your thoughts on her comment?
Daisuke Takahashi: I’m really happy. It’s truly heartwarming. In ice dance, we competed as rivals, and I never imagined that we would end up competing together on the same stage. It was a valuable experience for me, and I believe they will continue striving to be at the top as active athletes. Now, I want to switch roles and support them wholeheartedly. As for myself, I’ll do my best on this new stage, and I would be delighted to skate together again somewhere in the future.
What are your expectations for Komatsubara and her partner?
Daisuke Takahashi: I believe that as more young pairs emerge in the future, they will be the ones who will lead us. So, I hope they strive to get closer to the top and push themselves even further.
How would you describe Komatsubara’s presence in your competitive career?
Daisuke Takahashi: Initially, when we first started ice dance, she was ahead of me, so I didn’t think I could surpass her. However, having someone close to me as a goal was motivating and pushed me to level up. The fact that we were from the same hometown was reassuring, and made me feel like I didn’t want to lose. She was a great overall.
During your retirement press conference, you mentioned that you would like to be involved in bringing up young athletes. Do you have any aspirations in your hometown?
Daisuke Takahashi: Things I want to do…
The next generation, young children, for example?
Daisuke Takahashi: I wonder what it’s like (in Okayama). Since I don’t have a clear understanding of the current situation there, I feel it’s a bit premature to say what would be good or not. I think it would be better to first go back and experience the atmosphere, see how things are currently being done, and then explore various interesting possibilities. Ideas like “It would be interesting to try something like this” or “This approach might work well” would come up. So, first, I want to go back and greet everyone in a normal manner, and then take my time to discover what I can contribute.
In two years, the national sports festival will be held at the Kurashiki rink where you used to practice. Maybe you could support the athletes from Okayama. What are your thoughts on this?
Daisuke Takahashi: I’m not sure what I can do specifically, but considering the areas where I received support, as well as areas beyond that, and since I also started skating in a duo, I would like to support children who aspire to skate in duo. There are children in Kurashiki, but I would also like to reach out to others. I thought it would be nice to invite them and say, “Why don’t you give it a try?” As for the national sports festival, I’m not sure how it will take shape, but if possible, I think it would be great.
We have collected various questions from junior athletes, so we’d like to have you answer them. It could become “Ask Daisuke Part 3.” First, from Coach Sasaki: “At what point did you truly decide, ‘Alright, I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to excel in skating.’ I can’t quite imagine it. When did you transition from enjoying your time in Kurashiki to having that mindset of ‘I’m going to excel in skating’?”
Daisuke Takahashi: It was when I was 18 years old.
You remember it clearly, don’t you?
Daisuke Takahashi: At the World Championships, there was an Olympic spot on the line. Both Takeshi Honda and I were competing, but Takeshi withdrew, and I became the sole contender for the spot. I messed up, but I managed to secure that Olympic spot. That was the moment when I thought, “I really want to go to the Olympics.” That’s when I had a goal for the first time, and I started working hard.
While you were striving in the sport, was the enjoyment aspect significant?
Daisuke Takahashi: It wasn’t so much about enjoying it; I was just going with the flow.
What about the frustration?
Daisuke Takahashi: It was less about frustration and more about genuinely wanting to go to the Olympics. I had made that Olympic spot my own, and it was a slightly arrogant mindset, wanting to secure that spot.
A strong desire to reclaim it?
Daisuke Takahashi: Yes, it was a feeling of wanting to go there. That’s where it started, I think. My results started to improve from that point, and I became determined to work hard. It’s quite late, though.
I thought it would be a little earlier. Has your approach to the sport changed?
Daisuke Takahashi: It has changed. From that point on, I started working with a trainer. It wasn’t about physical transformation, as trainer weren’t common back then. Not everyone had one. But I got a trainer and a personal coach. I did all that and went to the venues.
Next is athlete Hoshiminami Miyake. “Takahashi has won medals at the Olympics and World Championships, and I really want to stand on that stage too. I still have doubts and weaknesses that come up during practice, so I want to know how to overcome those.”
Daisuke Takahashi: I want to know too. I personally really dislike practicing. That makes me a bit scared. I tend to get nervous, so I don’t know. That’s the only thing. I truly believe there’s no other solution but to find your own. But I try not to blame myself too much. Hoshiminami is probably the type who pushes themselves too hard and ends up falling down, and I have that aspect as well. It’s easy start blaming the others at that point. But I think that if you accept yourself for what you can do, even just a little, it will lead to self-confidence.
Is it because you’re doing everything the best you can?
Daisuke Takahashi: That’s why, internally, blaming others is not good. It’s within yourself.
A female athlete in her first year of junior high school who does ice dance asks, “I feel most relaxed when I’m eating. When do you feel most relaxed, Daisuke-san?”
Daisuke Takahashi: I wonder when I can feel relaxed while preparing for a competitions… I’m constantly tense. Maybe it’s when I’m applying skincare, like putting on toner. I think, “Ah, it feels good.” It’s like the exhaustion of the day is lifted. But other than that, I’m constantly tense. I don’t know. Even before going to bed, I’m tense. It’s common for me to have trouble falling asleep…
It’s not like you’re forcing yourself to relax?
Daisuke Takahashi: When I feel tense, I try to enjoy the tension. I make an effort to do that. Recently, I’ve been trying to do that.
A 6-year-old female athlete says, “I worked hard and now I can do an axel. Daisuke-san, which jump did you work hard on and eventually succeed in?“
Daisuke Takahashi: Well, all of them, I guess. The axel jump was particularly challenging. Yeah, I don’t really remember. But the triple axel took a lot of time. It was difficult for me.
You just kept jumping over and over again.
Daisuke Takahashi: Yes, I kept jumping. Practice is the key, after all.
A 7-year-old male skater says, “I like takoyaki, but Daisuke-san, what is your favorite food?”
Daisuke Takahashi: There are many, but I like fried chicken with mayonnaise. Also, gyoza and fried chicken.
Aren’t there foods that you can’t eat while competing?
Daisuke Takahashi: I eat them all the time. When I was competing in singles, I used to think about whether I should eat oily food or not before a competition. But now, I eat without any restrictions. In ice dance, you need to eat well. It’s not that fried chicken is the best option, but as long as I eat plenty of vegetables, I’m fine with enjoying some fried chicken.
An 11-year-old female athlete asks, “What is your favorite subject to study? I like mathematics.”
Daisuke Takahashi: That’s wonderful. I like art and crafts. Are we talking about the five subjects?
Let’s expand on that.
Daisuke Takahashi: I enjoyed subjects like art, crafts, and technical subjects. The five subjects are no longer feasible for me.
Creating something, perhaps?
Daisuke Takahashi: Yes, I enjoyed music and art.
A 20-year-old male athlete asks, “I believe you have experienced many incidents during international competitions. What is the most memorable mishap that occurred during a competition? Also, I would like to know the mental approach to overcome such mishaps and stay focused on the competition.”
Daisuke Takahashi: Mishaps… Well, there was this incident where my blade came loose. It’s secured here (between the boot and the blade), but it came off during the competition. I tried to put it back on while spinning, but I couldn’t attach it properly, so I had to stop and start again in the middle of the performance. As for the mental aspect… When something like that happens, it’s not about what to do in the immediate moment. It’s about how to handle it during the preceding period when it occurred. But you just have to think, “Well, it can’t be helped.” There was another instance where my skate broke right before the start, and I had to change it with only three days left until the competitiona. At times like that, you have no choice but to do your best and think, “Oh well, even if my performance doesn’t go well.” Having that kind of mental approach can surprisingly work in your favor. It’s important to accept and move on, to have that mindset of “it’s okay.”
A 22-year-old female athlete asks, “I’m currently a fourth-year university student and going through job hunting. I’ll be starting my career as a working professional from next April. If you have any advice on things I should be mindful of as a working adult, please let me know.”
Daisuke Takahashi: Well, I haven’t become a working professional myself, you know. But isn’t it important to greet people properly?
In a way, it’s a departure from the world of sports and a new debut as a working professional. What are some things you think one should be mindful of?
Daisuke Takahashi: It’s difficult to say, but one thing I try to do is listen to others. As you get older, you tend to become more stubborn. So, I make an effort not to become stubborn, to accept someone’s viewpoint at least once without immediately rejecting it, and to actively listen to what others have to say. I don’t want to become an adult who can’t listen. I hope that’s helpful.
As time is limited, there’s one more thing we would like you to see.
(Message from the skaters at the Kurashiki Skating Club)
“Thank you, Mr. Takahashi. Thank you for coming to Kurashiki. Please teach us! We’re waiting for you! We’re waaaiiiting!!”
Daisuke Takahashi: Thank you, that’s adorable. But I don’t know any of these kids at all. They’re all saying, “Please teach us.” I’m glad they still remember me. Of course, I plan to do those kinds of things, so I’ll probably get a bit busier, maybe after September. Somewhere, we’ll meet.
The children I mentioned earlier look up to you and see you as their goal. What message do you have for young athletes?
Daisuke Takahashi: I think it’s better to aim for someone even better, but I hope they continue skating for as long as possible. And without blaming themselves too much, I hope they find a good balance. They need to push themselves when they need to, work hard when they have to, but pushing too hard is not good either. Everyone has their limits. If they go beyond that, take a break and try to continue as long as possible. If they’ve started, I just want them to keep going.
Finally, if you could give a message to everyone in Okayama.
Daisuke Takahashi: To everyone in Okayama, this is Daisuke Takahashi. I have made the decision to retire from competitive skating. In the future, I personally want to explore various challenges with professional skating as my foundation. I’m not sure in what form I will appear but I will do my best while aiming for the path I will pursue. I would be grateful if you could continue to warmly support me. One of my dreams is to have an ice show in Okayama, so I will work hard to make that come true. I’m not sure if it will happen or not, but I will give it my all. Please come and see it if the opportunity arises.
Related topics: Daisuke Takahashi
Minerva Fabienne Hase teamed up with Nikita Volodin and starting from the upcoming season, the new pair will represent Germany in international competitions