The Only Professional Water Skier in Japan & Asia

This is an interview with Saaya Hirosawa, competitor of “Moomba Masters 2011”, an international water skiing competition held in Melbourne’s largest festival – the Moomba Festival. As a person who strives to achieve her goals, Hirosawa talks about her sporting life.

Profile of Saaya Hirosawa

– 26 years old, born on October 13th, 1984.
– Born in Tokyo.
– The only professional water skier in Japan & Asia, ranking 19th in the world.
– The record holder of Water Ski Jumps category in Japan & Asia.
– A postgraduate student currently studying at Gakushuin University.
– This year is the 4th time she contested in “Moomba Masters”, a professional tournament which only top world ranking sportsmen can participate in.

-What made you start water skiing?

It started after I entered university so it was around the time when I was 19 years old. It’s now my eighth year in the water skiing field.
I had taken many different kinds of lessons when I was little, such as piano and equestrian. However I quit them all around the time of high school because I didn’t know the purposes behind those lessons. But when I graduated from high school, I realised that I don’t have any talents. I suddenly became ashamed of myself for having no talents because of not persisting in any activities up until then. So I started looking for something that I can dive into, making it an asset of mine. Moreover, I decided that if I was to go with something, I’m going to become Japan’s No.1 in it. I thought about what it is that will allow me to achieve this goal, and chose water skiing.


-What were your thoughts the first time you water skied?

To my surprise, I found myself really getting into it with no resistance because I like activities such as jet coaster and swimming to begin with.

-You participated in the Moomba Masters 2011 Jumps category today, right?

Yes that’s right. Water skiing is divided into three categories – Jumps, Slalom and Tricks. I’ve narrowed it down to challenging the Jumps category. At the start when I was still a first year university student, I came up with three goals that I wanted to achieve – to become first in the Gakushuin University’s team and first in Japan, and to establish a new all Japan record. I thought about which category it is that I will have the best shot in to achieve these goals, and decided to specialise in Jumps.
Moreover, competitors in an international tournament like today’s have been practicing water skiing since a young age. It would be difficult to compete in categories like Slalom and Tricks as they are both dependent on one’s past experiences. So I asked myself “which category will I be able to overtake those opponents in?”, and narrowed it down to challenging Jumps.


-What’s the difference in level between Japan and overseas?

Even though I’m the record holder of 47.7m in the Jumps category in Japan and Asia, when compared to the rest of the world standards, it’s as if a Japanese person was to play for NBA; there’s still so much more to be done. Just like in today’s tournament, it was easy to figure out that I was the only Asian competitor; it seems like this sport is still at the phase of being recognised by Asians.

-You are the champion in Asia but a challenger in the world. Is there a difference in the way you face these competitions?

Yes. There’s the difference of a “defending” competition and an “attacking” competition. Competitions in which I definitely have to win and competitions in which I may win are totally different. So if I have to pick one, I’d say the defending competitions are much more intense.

-Is there a ritual you do before a competition?

I always paint my finger nails red. Red is my lucky colour and I’ve been doing so since I was a student. I’d get anxious if I don’t paint them red. And then there’s the maintenance of motivation, in which I keep myself aware of the purpose instead of the target. I believe it’s sometimes stressful to pursue a specific target, so instead I’d think about the reasons for playing this sport and of all the support I receive to cheer me up.

-What are your goals from now on?

In the aspect of records, there’s my bottom line of reaching 50m. This is a record that even Japanese males haven’t achieved yet; as of now, I’m the person who’s closest to this number. I want to reach 50m and become a contestant who’s capable of competing against the world. However what I want to do the most is to convey through my own experience the message that the opposite of success isn’t failure but instead, it’s choosing to do nothing. For example, it used to be a surprise seeing a Japanese competing in professional water skiing; if I reach 50m, I’d be able to pass on the idea that regardless of what it is, everything comes down to a matter of “do or do not” rather than “can or cannot”.

-Will you be participating in Moomba Masters next year as well?

There’s a limit of 15 contestants, and the entrants are selected based on their world rankings so it depends on my record for this year. But if I were to participate, I want to train and challenge myself to the point of winning the competition.
Compared to other tournaments’ host cities, I believe Melbourne has a higher proportion of Asians. I want to work hard to win everyone’s support, including the Japanese people living in Melbourne. That will be the best!

-We are looking forward to seeing Saaya’s performance in the future!Thank you. 

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