Three Golds at Beijing Para! Where Does Momoka Muraoka Gets Her Motivation?
Great accomplishment with 3 golds and 1 silver!
I saw her at the Beijing Paralympics, and I felt that she was very competitive. “
<Momoka Muraoka, an alpine skier, achieved three gold and one silver medal at the Beijing Paralympics. She is highly regarded by Hidemichi Kurata, who served as director of Waseda University’s ski team from 2003 to 2004 and trained Nordic combined medalist Akito Watabe, among others. Kurata, who is now in charge of sports promotion at Aioi Dowa Insurance Company, recalls the “origin of Muraoka’s strength. ＞
Momoka had competed in the Tokyo Paralympics in the summer in track and field, so she must have had a short time to prepare for skiing in this competition. Normally, her schedule is to train on snow overseas during the summer as well, return to Japan once for a land training period, and then go overseas again in late October. Since they could not do that, they must have been anxious at the beginning.
However, he must have gained confidence since he was able to compete to some extent, winning and standing on the podium at the World Cups. When I saw her on TV standing on the starting podium, she seemed very calm.
I met her when she came with her mother to the ski club dormitory at Waseda University’s Tokorozawa campus. I first met her when she was a sophomore in high school, after the Sochi Paralympics.
She told me that she wanted to join Waseda, but since I had never coached Para athletes myself and there were no staff members who could coach her, I gently distanced myself from her at first, saying, “It’s uncertain about joining the ski club.
Later, during a training camp at Nozawa Onsen in April 2003, I bumped into her at a gondola stop. She happened to be at the Para training camp, too. I asked her many questions, such as why she wanted to come to Waseda and how she was facing skiing.
Listening to her words at that time, I felt that what she said and her enthusiasm were the same as those of other high school students who wanted to join the Waseda University Ski Club.
So I asked her to come to the dormitory again to reconfirm her feelings.
I could judge whether she wanted to join the ski club or not, but she would be training, eating, and sleeping with the other members of the club. Therefore, I thought that if even one person was opposed to joining the club, I should So I asked the captain to summarize everyone’s opinion again later, and he said, “No one objected. When I gathered the club members together and confirmed this, no one said anything.
In Pulaski, I know Ms. Kuniko Ohinata (Kuniko), who is considered a legend, as well as Mr. Morii (Daiki) and Mr. Nitta (Yoshihiro) nowadays. To be honest, there was a part of me that subconsciously thought But when I asked some of the club members about it, I found that there were some who said they had practiced with Muraoka on the same set of poles at the Sugadaira ski resort, where Alpine skiers often practice.
Since I had not expected to practice with Para skiers, I had assumed that the rules were different somewhere, so I was told by students that we could ski together because the rules were the same. In addition, he also said, “They practice diligently and are solid players.
── Muraoka entered Waseda University in April 2004 through the “Top Athlete Entrance Examination” of the School of Sports Sciences. However, the campus in Tokorozawa, Saitama, which was not yet ready to accept para-athletes, was left with steep hills and barrier-free access problems.
After Momoka’s acceptance, I thought about barrier-free access to the ski club dormitory. I thought it was important that from the moment she entered the school, she should be able to work and live in the same way as the other athletes without being separated. from them. I asked Momoka and her mother to visit the dormitory many times to list the places that needed to be improved for her to live there, and we came up with about 50 places.
The funds needed to make the dormitory barrier-free were estimated at 6 million yen, even at a low estimate. When I asked the alumni association for advice on how to raise the funds, they forcefully refused my request. Some people said, “Your job is to make our club the best university in Japan, but what are you doing letting in people with disabilities?
I heard that Mr. Junichi Kawai, the chairman of the Japan Paralympic Committee, was also not allowed to join the Waseda Swimming Club when he was an active member, but was later accepted as an alumnus after his success at the Paralympics. At the time, this tended to be the case with more traditional clubs, and it took a lot of time to persuade him to join.
Because of this, I asked Momoka, “Of course we will support you, but once you enter the university, there may be hardships and conflicts, so will you still work hard and make it on your own?
I asked her if she would be able to make it on her own. She replied, “From the moment I decided that I wanted to go to Waseda, I have been determined to make it on my own. I think that the many things you went through on your way to admission and the pride you take in having carved your way through it all have given you the confidence you have today.
After entering the school, I let her observe other athletes practicing and she said, “I didn’t know that Waseda’s ski club practices so much. I was surprised. Since she had not had any serious practice before, I thought it was important to create a practice system for Momoka, so we started with basic physical development.
We worked on the basics, such as building big muscles, training her core, and expanding the range of motion of her joints, but she has paralysis in her lower body, so she has no idea where to support her core.
When I ask him where he uses his body to make turns, he says, “I don’t really know. So he was skiing just by feel. So I asked a physical therapist from the Japan Ski Federation for the Disabled, studied videos of Momoka skiing, and through trial and error, created a core training menu and assigned a physical coach to train her.
After a year of doing so, she came in third overall at the World Cup. She also told me that she had achieved good results after a year of training that she had not been able to do before, while being stimulated by the ski club. I was relieved that my coaches and I had not made a mistake in the direction of training.
–Muraoka had also competed in para-athletics in junior high school, and after entering university, he expressed to the ski club his desire to try his hand at summer/winter “dual sports”. Kurata was initially opposed to Muraoka’s intentions.
Before the summer of her first year of college, she came to me and said, “I want to do para-athletics as well. I told her that it was fine to practice on the handcycle and other equipment used in Para athletics training that would lead to skiing, but not to compete as an athlete. I told her not to chase two hares, but to concentrate on skiing. I told him that if he still wanted to challenge himself, he should do so after he entered the workforce.
In the Waseda University Ski Team, there were Olympic gold medalist Kenji Ogihara (current mayor of Nagano City), Hideaki Nagai, Akito Watanabe, Yoshito Watanabe, Taishi Miyazawa, Sakurako Mukogawa (Japan’s representative at the Beijing Olympics), and other athletes when I was the coach. All of them have been skiing only, and yet some of their seniors have not been able to budge. He said, “It is no good now to be two-faced because you are a Para athlete. She looked a little disappointed, but she honestly listened to what I said.
When it came time to find a job, Muraoka received offers from a variety of companies. At that time, we negotiated with them, including the question, “She is considering taking up para athletics, and if so, will you support her?” As a result, Toyota, to whom I referred her, accepted her. This is how I decided to challenge para-athletics in earnest.
I supported her in many ways, but it is she who has paved the way to this point. I think his words before entering the school, “I will make my own way,” are all that matters. The training methods for Para athletics must be different from those for skiing, and I don’t think she can make it to the finals with a half-hearted attitude (she placed 6th in the 100m at the Tokyo Para).
She has a high awareness of her competition and her way of life, you know. Also, what she used to say and what she says now are different in wording, but they are almost the same. She must have a strong core. Skiing is a battle against fear in many ways, but if you are afraid of anything, you will take a step back. If you step back, you cannot move forward, and I am sure that the struggle of “how far can I go?”
But she also has the confidence that she has overcome these obstacles. I think the source of Momoka’s strength is her self-control, which she is able to achieve only because she has carved out a path for herself.