Interview with Tomoa Narasaki and Akiyo Noguchi

During February, Akiyo Noguchi and Tomoa Narasaki, two Bouldering greats from Japan, are in Innsbruck to train and prepare for the World Championships. We met up with them for a short conversation at our office before they headed to the gym to train.

You are the current Bouldering World Champion, recently you made some great performances in Lead as well. What is your main goal for the World Championships in Innsbruck? Combined or Bouldering?

Tomoa Narasaki: I’m aiming for both championship titles. Firstly, it is important for me to increase my results for Tokyo 2020. Moreover, winning the world championship in bouldering is very fantastic so I will do my best.

When you climb, you look fearless and determined. How important is it to have to right attitude at a competition?

T.N.: When I feel afraid, I do not fully believe in myself. To believe in myself is an important key for authentic climbing. 

You visualise the boulders thoroughly before your attempts. How much does this help you?

T.N: My style is a good balanced one. Depending on the problem, I can imagine the coordination of the movement that I am good at by observation. On the other hand, as for volume problems, I often asses while trying to climb.  

How do you like it here in Innsbruck?

T.N.: There are many good bouldering gyms in Japan, but there are no good facilities for lead and speed. So I can climb all kinds in one day here. I think from now on combined will be important so I came here! The weather and scenery in Innsbruck are very nice and also, the gym is perfect.

You are one of the greatest bouldering competitors ever. At the last two World Championships, you took bronze. What is your goal for the World Championships in 2018?

Akiyo Noguchi: In the last World Championships in Paris, I was the 3rd but I certainly aim for the champion title. So far my best result was 2nd so this time I want to become the champion. In addition, with regard to the Olympic games, from this season I want to enter the combined and create good results for me.

You have been competing internationally for more than 10 years, you have seen a lot of competitors come and go. What do you think about the new generation (Janja Garnbret, Futaba Ito,…)?

A.N.: The new generation are all very balanced, and not only the males but also the female have a high level, I think all are multi-talented. The former generations have focused only on their strengths. But the new generation are very balanced and focus on both their strengths and their weaknesses in their training.

Udo Neumann said that you are the “centre of the Japanese team”. How would you describe your role in the Japanese team?

A.N.: (Smiles.) When I started to enter the World Cup, I was participating alone and there was no head coach. So the scale of the Japanese team was small. It was quite a long time that I was participating as hobby.
Now the Japanese team is well known in the world and in the international ranking it is constantly on the 1st place. I think the Japanese team has grown a lot.
Of course, I want to promote climbing in Japan and to strengthen it. More importantly, first I need to perform and get good results. So rather than telling and coaching, I think that it is important for me to show my ability. And I have kept working hard on my climbing.

You are spending two weeks in Innsbruck to train. Why did you choose to come to Innsbruck?

A.N.: Because the World Championships are held in Innsbruck this year, my intention to come here was to check out the environment and to climb in the gym.
Moreover there are good bouldering gyms in Japan, but there are no problems and walls for lead and speed. I have to improve my speed and lead skills and that is why I came here.


2000 Holds





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