Slacklining is still not very well known in Japan, so I’d be happy if it becomes more popular and more rivals come to Japan,” Nakamura says politely.
Rikuto Nakamura (14), who won the “Trickline World Cup 2022,” a world slackline competition held in Germany this year, speaks with a polite tone.
Nakamura is Japan’s top slackline athlete, having won the Japanese competition four times in a row. Slacklining is a street sport in which acrobatic tricks are performed on a “line” about 5 cm wide and 20 m long. It became popular in Europe in the 2000s, especially in Germany, and arrived in Japan in 2009. What was it that got you started in the sport?
My father was doing it as a hobby, and when I was 3 years old, he took me to a practice place, and I started jumping by myself when I was around 5 years old. Slacklining is very difficult, and getting on the line is a challenge. The sense of accomplishment when I was able to do the trick was the most appealing thing for me.”
Nakamura’s strength is his twisting technique. Nakamura has developed an original technique by applying twists.
There is a technique named after me, the ‘ricto flip. I also have a technique called the “Continental Flip,” which only I have been able to do in the world, and it is my greatest weapon. This is a more difficult move than the “ricto flip,” with more than one twist and two and a half backward somersaults. It was very difficult to create this technique.
The key to mastering an original technique is to repeat it over and over again. There is one more important thing, he says.
Imagine success. How will you see your body from a bird’s eye view, and what kind of scenery will you see when you do it? I practice on the line after I have visualized it all in my mind.
When he was in the first grade of elementary school, he built a dedicated practice field in his grandparents’ yard, where he jumped all day long. His father, Manabu, who watched Nakamura’s successes from his side, said, “At first, Rikunin had to play soccer.
At first, I wanted Rikunin to play soccer. But since the core is important in any sport, I started him on the slackline to train him more intensively. …… I found myself getting into that. When I was in elementary school, I practiced by myself from 8:00 in the morning until it was dark outside, until I could do the technique. The moment I was able to do it, my nerves broke and I was crying a lot. I may be a foolish parent, but I think he is a really serious and stoic child (laughs).
Nakamura has earned many titles in slacklining, but in real life he is still in the second year of junior high school. We asked him what he is into these days.
I love stationery. I especially like low center-of-gravity mechanical pencils because they are easy to use and cool. I recently bought an 8,000-yen mechanical pencil with the prize money from a world tournament.”
Finally, we asked him about his goals for the future.
I want to increase the number of techniques that only I can do in the world. Above all, I would be happy if slackline competitions become more popular and attract more people to the sport.
Nakamura will continue to soar in the air to achieve even greater heights.
Nakamura was born in Tochigi Prefecture in 2008 and started slacklining at the age of 3. Since then, he has won four consecutive titles. In June this year, he won the World Cup in Germany. He is scheduled to perform in the “Challenge Slackline” event to be held at the Brex Arena Utsunomiya on January 15 next year.
Photo： Yuri Adachi