“Even among athletes, Satoko Miyahara is a genius of effort. She absolutely does what needs to be done.” Interview with sport health professional Shinichi Demizu
Translation of the article and interview with Shinichi Demizu, sport health professional who worked with Satoko Miyahara.
source: jbpress.ismedia.jp dd. 18th June 2023 by Takaomi Matsubara
Simulating and considering the words to say to an athlete. From there, sports trainer Shinichi Demizu has been providing support while also paying sufficient attention to the athlete’s mental aspect, or even focusing on it.
Therefore, when starting supporting an thlete, Demizu strives to understand the athlete’s “core.”
“In the case of figure skating, it’s about why they are doing figure skating. Depending on the core, I change the way I communicate.”
When helping Satoko Miyahara from the 2015-2016 season, Demizu sought to find where Miyahara’s “core” lies.
“I want everyone to watch and genuinely become happy, I want them to enjoy it. That’s why I’m skating.”
That was Miyahara’s “core.”
“I wanted to focus on that. At the time, her small voice hindered, so we also had discussions like, ‘If you want everyone to be happy but have a small voice, wouldn’t it go against the purpose?’ While creating some triggers, I had the thought of assisting Miyahara-chan, who wants to ‘show’ and be ‘seen.'”
“It was really tough, really difficult.”
There were things I realized while providing support.
“She’s the type to definitely do what she’s told. However, I felt that if I made her think too much, she might become indecisive. But I wanted it to be choices that involved thinking as much as possible. I never explicitly told her to do something, but I tried to use a more assertive way of speaking that had more certainty, for example, compared to when it was Shoma Uno, saying, ‘I think it would be better to do it this way, but what do you think?'”
From then on, Miyahara was making progress, but she was hit by a major setback.
In January 2017, she announced her withdrawal from events like the Four Continents Championships due to a fatigue fracture in her hip joint. Despite waiting for recovery, she couldn’t make it in time and was forced to withdraw from the World Championships. The road to her comeback was not easy, and she was often plagued by injuries.
“It wasn’t an external factor; it stemmed from hormonal issues. In terms of training volume, she wasn’t getting enough nutrients. As a result, fatigue accumulated and led to a stress fracture. It wasn’t about pushing too hard, so we had to improve from a nutritional perspective. There were also issues related to the female body that were combined with it.”
She received advice from doctors who pointed out issues related to nutrition and made efforts to improve while learning from a professional dietitian.
There were times when she couldn’t practice on the ice, and those periods weren’t short.
“When she made a comeback, various emotions from her high school days resurfaced, and I designed training menus with the intention of improving her performance. She went through that training. She would say, ‘It was really tough, really difficult.’
She would start training in the morning, have a lunch break and a short rest, and continue training until early evening. She lived that kind of daily routine, but she couldn’t go skating. It seems like she had various thoughts like, ‘Is it really okay to be doing this?’ All the training was bodyweight exercises, but even with just abdominal exercises, she did over 500 repetitions. But she would do it meticulously. I thought it was amazing, and that’s why I have nothing but respect for her. Among athletes, she is a genius of effort. She absolutely does what needs to be done.”
She returned to the ice and resumed jump training during the summer, but she suffered a right hip joint contusion and had to step away from the rink again, unable to make a full recovery. The season leading up to the PyeongChang Olympics began, but she had to withdraw from multiple planned competitions. In such circumstances, coach Mie Hamada, who was guiding her, spoke about aiming for the Olympics four years later. It was October 2017, and it reflected the severity of the situation.
“I thought that Coach Hamada said that to encourage her and to elicit a response from her, believing that she would surely respond.”
How did Miyahara herself perceive those words?
“She said, ‘My coach told me not to give up, but I don’t want to give up.'”
How did Shimizu respond to that?
“He said, ‘To be honest, I think it will be difficult for you in four years. If you have the desire to go, then try expressing it.’ By ‘difficult,’ he meant winning on the world stage. Russian skaters kept emerging one after another, and there were junior skaters who were doing triple axels and quadruple jumps. Miyahara seemed capable of achieving a triple axel with effort, but I thought that a quadruple jump would be challenging.”
Miyahara persisted in her goal of aiming for the Olympics and went on to win the Japenese Nationals, securing her spot as a representative for the PyeongChang Olympics.
“I never had an image of her not going, and I always thought she would definitely win and go. When her performance was over, it was the first time I cried watching her skate. I cried a lot. I thought,’ The results of all the hard work and struggles she went through, they really paid off.'”
At the PyeongChang Olympics, Miyahara delivered an exceptional performance and achieved a fourth-place finish. In addition to attending the competition, Shimizu was also providing support to another skater starting from this season: Shoma Uno. Uno also competed in the PyeongChang Games and won a silver medal. In other words, Shimizu accompanied both of them as their trainer to the Olympics.
“With Shoma, I really had to think about various approaches at first,” Shimizu reflects.
“Initially, I heard that he didn’t like the idea of writing down goals. So I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate to suddenly ask him, ‘What is your goal?’ Instead, we had various conversations. In the midst of those conversations, I mentioned, ‘You’ve been working hard in figure skating for a long time.’
Through the ongoing conversations that started with that question, Shimizu sensed Uno’s ‘core.’
“He doesn’t want to lose to himself compared to others.” I thought he had a strong will not to lose to himself. He absolutely doesn’t want to lose to himself. He practices for that purpose, and he wants to show what he has practiced in competitions. I felt that this was his ‘core,’ and we should proceed in that direction. Moreover, I realized that he had a clear mindset and his own style.”
Shimizu has been supporting Uno until today, sharing the ups and downs together.
Related topics: Satoko Miyahara