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Sport climbing Ai Mori Special Interview

This content was originally published in August 2023.

Signed sponsorship agreement with climber Ai Mori since April 2023

Sumitomo Corporation began sponsoring the Japanese National Sport Climbing Team as a Gold Partner in 2018. In FY2023, we signed a personal sponsorship agreement with climber Ai Mori.
She is a 19-year-old student at the University of Tsukuba. She is a top competitor in Japan with a total of six victories, four of which are consecutive, at the Lead Japan Cup, a competition that determines Japan’s top competitors, and who defeated the 2022 Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Janja Garnbret at the Climbing World Cup held in Slovenia in September 2022.
She visited SC Tokyo Head Office on May 17.

Ai Mori Interview: I have and want to continue to enjoy climbing

What kind of kid were you?
I wasn’t good at sports, but I hated to lose, so I challenged myself to always give it my all at sports day, regardless of my ranking. I liked to climb trees, so my dad started to take me to a climbing gym because climbing high was dangerous, which started me on my path to today.
You’ve recently been successful in climbing. What led to your big break?
There was a time I wasn’t performing as well as I wanted, so I asked for advice from sport climber, Akiyo Noguchi. She said, “If you want to climb, climb, but you don’t need to force yourself.” I then took a two-year break from climbing competitively and just focused on enjoying it.
During my break, my mental and physical health improved, and I once again found myself wanting more stimulation. I decided to focus on and enjoy competing, and I have since been able to achieve good results. It’s important to practice hard, but I also came to realize the importance in enjoying the sport itself and I now like competing.
What do you focus on in training and competitions?
I’ve been able to achieve good results, but I never fail to find improvements to make at each competition. I constantly think about how I can train to strengthen my weak points. I don’t usually have a coach, so I have to think and decide on my own. I also lower training intensity the week before a competition, so I don’t wear myself out.
At competitions, I make sure not to concern myself with what happens around me but to focus solely on the challenge in front of me. I believe climbing is a battle with myself. I used to do a pre-match routine, but I have stopped because I became anxious when unable to do it.
How do you relax on your days off?
I forget about my troubles when I listen to music or cook, so the time I can spend with those activities is important to me. I also find myself feeling refreshed and more motivated after I clean up around the house.
How do you balance climbing with your school life?
Last year’s classes were conducted online, so there weren’t any big issues; however, the commute to school for in-person classes can be a little bit tiring. That said, it’s fun being able to meet friends at school. I have less time to spend climbing than I did in high school, so I have learned how to train efficiently in a short period.
You turn 20 this year. Could you please share your future aspirations?
I want to become an independent adult who can do things on her own. I live with my parents and still rely on them a lot, but I will work to slowly get away from that and eventually live alone. I want to grow not only as an athlete but also as a person.
I hope to continue to climb throughout my life, no matter the form. The longest I will compete on an international level is 10 years, and I think I’m close to my peak. My current challenge is to see how long I can compete. However, I want to continue to compete on a level in which I can still enjoy climbing after I retire.
Finally, can we get a message for everyone at Sumitomo Corporation?
I am grateful to have been able to meet everyone at Sumitomo Corporation and take their support through the thing I love, climbing. I hope to become an athlete who provides inspiration and hope to those that cheer me on through performing the best I can. Above all, I would be happy if everyone would watch me have fun climbing.

Sumitomo Corporation
I will do my best in study and climbing!

Sumitomo Corporation will support Ai Mori as she works to balance school with her dedication to climbing and as she competes on the world stage.

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