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Judoka Hirose works on ‘spirit, technique, body, luck and love’

Date: July 10, 2020

Category: Judo

By Victoria Donu and IBSA

Japan’s Haruka Hirose is not your average judoka.

As one half of a judo partnership with his Paralympic bronze medallist wife Junko, Hirose lives and breathes the sport.

In 2021 the pair will compete in their home country – and the birthplace of judo – at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Whilst he is not targeting gold, Hirose still takes his preparations very seriously.

“Spirit, technique, body, luck and love,” he replied when asked what it takes to win big.

“Spirit, technique and body are trained in everyday practice.  I pray for my luck and in love I work on deepening my relationships with Junko and many other important friends.  In total, it’s hard work in all these aspects.”

He recognised the impact that Junko has on his motivation and desire to improve his technique.

“She always tells me that my rivals are working hard and that I need to work even harder to catch up with them.  She always reminds me that we should cherish the present time as time cannot be recovered.”

Hirose’s focus is very much on helping Junko to reach the top.

“I believe Junko can reach gold medal and as her coach, I will make sure to do so.  Based on my past record, gold is not my goal but I would like to win as many matches as possible so my friends can enjoy more.

“We have been studying her rivals.  Also, for blind Judo, power means a lot.  Therefore, we have been strengthening Junko so she can beat anyone at the match.”

Hirose started judo as a hobby long before he competed for his country. Everything changed when Tokyo was selected as the hosts for 2020. He says it encouraged corporations to recognise and support Paralympians, and helped the public and employers to realise that people with impairments should be treated equally.

“I felt judo can be my career then,” he said. “Tokyo 2020 Games helped make a huge awareness shift in people’s knowledge about Para sports and disability in general.”

Whilst the judo community waits to hear when the next competition will be following a series of COVID-19 related cancellations, Haruka and Junko have been keeping each other motivated.

They run and train together as well as watching animations likes Naruto and Baruto. In addition to judo their joint love of Manga brings them together.

Their coach has told them to move on from this year and think positively, treating the postponement of Tokyo 2020 as one extra year to improve.

“In order to be better at judo, there are many things we can do now.  So, we think and work.  We do whatever we should do to be better than the day before,” Hirose concluded.

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