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Q&A with One of the Best: Akiyo Noguchi

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Akiyo Noguchi is no stranger to the international stage—she’s participated in more than 100 World Cups and has been competing for 14 seasons. Noguchi began her professional career at the age of 16. She turned 30 this past May, and despite her age, finished the 2019 season ranked second. She’s one of the most consistent athletes on the circuit, with four Overall Bouldering titles and 21 gold medals from Bouldering World Cups. Noguchi is good at lead as well. She ranked 8th in the 2018 season and is gearing up for four more lead World Cups later this year. Her big goal: The Olympics.

Gym Climber caught up with Noguchi at the GoPro Mountain Games to hear more about her career and what she has in store.

What are your goals for the coming year?

In 2016, when the Olympic Games were decided to be held in Tokyo 2020, I was considering whether I should continue sport climbing or not. After that, I have been involved in the campaign to host the Olympics. And from that moment I just wanted to participate in the Olympic Games…I would like to become the first gold medalist for Sport Climbing at the Olympics. Following the Olympics I plan on retiring.

What will you do when you retire?

When the Olympics are over, I would like to find a new direction for my life. I have a few things in mind, but it’s not clear yet. At least for sure, to promote climbing in Japan and across the world. I don’t think Sport Climbing is any less than other sports and I want more people to be aware of it.

What else goes on in your life? School? Job?

I am working as a professional climber and I have an environment where I can concentrate on the competition… In addition, I appear on TV and in magazines to promote climbing in Japan. I am very happy to be active for my favorite activity, climbing, every day.

Favorite outdoor climbs?

I climb mainly at competitions and I have only a few opportunities to go rock climbing. I haven’t gone on a tour recently…but Mandala in Bishop and Mind control in Oliana are some of the most memorable problems I have ever climbed. I can’t choose which is the best.  All are precious experiences to my climbing life and have made me grow up.

Akiyo uses her flexibly in the 2019 Meiringen World Cup. Photo: René Oberkirch

What do you think about while sitting in isolation?

In climbing we tend to have our preoccupied mind, like I’m good at slab or I’m not good at jumps. This is not good for performing. I try to forget everything and just be blank so that I can adapt to the problems in front of me.

What do you eat for breakfast before competing?

Rice. I bring instant packs when I’m traveling.

Favorite post-comp meal?

Thinly sliced beef that has been grilled on charcoal! It’s a Japanese dish.

What advice would you give to aspiring climbers?

I would like everyone to make an effort without regret. My motto is “do my best completely.” Whether the results are good or bad, I can be satisfied if I have done my best.

If you could have your own billboard, what would you put on it?

Hahah hmmm…. It would be me in a beautiful dress and climbing on a natural rock wall with high heels.

Hobbies outside of climbing?

I live close to Tokyo. I like to go shopping or wander in the city. I like shopping for clothes, makeup and accessories. I also really like traveling. When I’m done competing, I plan on going to other countries that I haven’t been able to go to yet.

Any fun facts about yourself?

Climbing is my everything. Climbing taught me not to give up and the joy of giving passion to one thing.

Feature Image by Eddie Fowke/IFSC

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