Kasumi Ishikawa and Mima Ito Interviews On Olympics and More

Mima Ito's iconic serve

As the Tokyo Olympics rapidly approach, Mima Ito and Kasumi Ishikawa have made several comments to Japanese media. Furthermore, Ishikawa is allegedly in talks to be the vice-captain for the host country Japan (across all sports) at the Tokyo Olympics. We have aggregated and translated several of their comments and interviews below.

Mima Ito Is Ready for the Olympics

Jun Mizutani and Mima Ito playing mixed doubles.
Ito and Mizutani Playing Mixed Doubles

Various Chinese and Japanese media outlets have reported on Mima Ito’s comments to Japanese media on June 24.

After Chinese media reported that Ito allegedly claimed that she had figured out how to beat Chen Meng and Sun Yingsha in May, Ito’s confidence remains high: “This time is different from the Rio Olympics, because this Olympics are in Japan. It feels unbelievable, but I am very confident and hope I can prepare coolly and calmly as usual. Even if tomorrow is the Olympics, it’s no problem. I will aggressively prepare with the mindset “in order to get the three golds [women’s singles, women’s team, mixed doubles], I must win.””

Ito also reportedly explicitly stated, “I will do my best to bring back three gold medals.”

Ito had an interesting comment regarding playing mixed doubles: “When I’m playing doubles, my body and legs move. It also makes my head spin and I get very tired, but it’s a very fun event.”

Kasumi Ishikawa Interview with “Big Kasumi” Creators

Ishikawa did an interview with the creators of the “Big Kasumi” statue. This interview was published on June 25.

There is roughly one month until the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Please give us your goals and level of enthusiasm.
With only one month left, I’m feeling more nervous, and I’m getting more and more excited.

What are your thoughts on seeing “Big Kasumi”?
I was very surprised.

It’s real, and I’m very happy to see the completion because I had many cameras shoot it when I asked them to make it.

What kind of adjustments and preparations have you made for the Olympics so far? And where will you prepare for the your final sprint?
Unlike the previous Olympic Games, I think that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be held without any international competition beforehand, so I want to make adjustments so that I leave no regrets. I’m also in really good physical condition. I also want to be careful and stand on the court [presumably, Ishikawa is concerned about her lower back injury that caused her to withdraw from an internal Japanese tournament several months ago].

You said that you will be participating in the [Japanese] league from June 24th. Please tell us the purpose of participating in the match before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Being in the league from June 24th, just before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is a very valuable opportunity for me. So I will play each game and execute what I have done and what I have practiced. I wish I could start the battle.

How is your current condition out of 100?
I think it’s about 70 percent. I’d like to raise it a little more by the time I go to the game and get to about 90 percent until I get on the court, so I’d like to make adjustments for another month.

Lastly, please share your enthusiasm.
I want to play at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics without regrets. I think the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be in a difficult situation, but I want to play without regrets for myself. I want to stand on the court, and I want to make the remaining one month a fulfilling one.

Kasumi Ishikawa Interview Reported By Yahoo Sports

On June 27, Yahoo Sports posted an interview (in Japanese) with Kasumi Ishikawa. We have translated select questions and answers from this interview.

Kasumi Ishikawa magazine cover taken from Yahoo Sports article

In some interviews, you said, “Recently, I’ve become able to speak with my true intentions.” What is your feeling about that?

After all, there were no matches due to the pandemic, and it was the first time in my life as a table tennis player that I hadn’t had such a match, and I think I was able to become a natural person in a good way.

For over 20 years since you started playing table tennis, you’ve been practicing hard at the top level.

If I didn’t have to do it, I wouldn’t do it at all (laughs). I think it’s difficult to maintain your level even with the minimum practice. Of course, it’s difficult to raise the level no matter how many years you’ve been doing it. If I try to do it at this level, I know that I can’t do it unless I practice hard, so I wonder if I’ll do it.

On the other hand, after winning the All Japan Championship, there was a comment that “I have been enjoying practicing recently.”

I’ve had a time when I couldn’t play a match this year due to the pandemic, and now I feel like I have to have fun. Of course, there are some tough and painful exercises, but I think it’s a waste not to enjoy this time now, whether it’s a match or practice.

Have you made any specific changes in your daily practice with that idea?

You’re doing more and more of the practice you want to do. The practice you have to do and the practice you want to do are probably a little different. There are other exercises I want to do, but I don’t think I have to do this, I’ll do more and more exercises I want to do. I haven’t done so much until now, but if I enjoy myself, I will continue to do what I want to do. Then, new exercises and things I want to do will come out, and I’m wondering if it will be fun again.

The Tokyo Olympics are finally approaching.

After all, I think it will be the first and last time to participate in the Tokyo Olympics once every four years, so rather than just looking at the feelings and results of enjoying it on the special stage of the Tokyo Olympics. I want to have fun, cherish the process, and feel that there is a result after that. I want to enjoy the situation I am in now, both in practice and in games.

Have you ever felt that you like table tennis again recently?

After all, I think I like table tennis because it’s fun to feel the joy of being able to do things after practice that I previously couldn’t do. The joy of being able to do something that didn’t work is the same as when I started playing table tennis.

Does the process of mastering a technique that you previously couldn’t do feel like you can just suddenly do it at one point?

There are various things. Sometimes you can do it suddenly, and sometimes you just have to do it. But after all that, I forget what I remembered. So, in the end, I think that people who can remember it often forget it, so if I try to remember it, I think it’s impossible if I don’t do it.

Do you sometimes suddenly become able to do it during a match?

Oh, that’s right. When you suddenly feel like “let’s try”, I think it’s a time when you feel positive, so that’s a good time. Whether it works or not. It feels like it doesn’t have to be included, so I was able to do that in the past, so now I’m thinking of doing it while cherishing it.

Do you feel a gap between the image of Ishikawa in society and yourself?

Well, I don’t really know what society thinks about me, so I don’t know (laughs)

Sure. I’m sorry…

Ah, but I really speak a lot, but I wonder if I think I don’t speak much. Someone I met for the first time said “I speak more than I expected” about 5 times, recently (laughs).

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule!

Thank you very much.

Kasumi Ishikawa on the Japanese League

In this section, Edges and Nets has aggregated several of Ishikawa’s post-game remarks on the Japanese league. Sources: here, here, here.

“It’s a rare opportunity for a real battle, so I’d like to actively show what I’ve been practicing and find out what was good and what was bad. Today, the serve is very good and the opponent disliked it.”

“It was a great experience to be able to play a lot of games with strong players before the Olympics, and it was great to be able to play at this timing. One month left until the Olympics. I want to be well prepared so that I won’t regret it and do my best to play the best.”

“I’m very happy because it’s been a long time since I entered the Japan League, so I’m very happy. There were a lot of games. I think the backhand was good this time. There was a part that led to scoring, and I was able to put out a lot of what I had practiced in the games, so I was very confident. It was a good experience to be able to play against a strong player in a tense atmosphere. I will do my best to play the best at the Olympics by preparing well so that I will not regret the remaining one month.”

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