In 2016 it was announced that Sport Climbing would become part of the Olympic Games for the first time in 2020. Japan are the 2020 Summer Olympics hosts and are set to field possibly the strongest team of any country. Up in front is 23 year old Tomoa Narasaki – who has just won the IFSC Bouldering and Combined Climbing World Championships 2019.
2019 IFSC World Climbing Championships
Just recently Tomoa made headlines with his double win in Hachioji, Japan. In the Bouldering final he was the only competitor to top any of the boulders – finishing two of four vs none from seasoned rival Jakob Schubert and Czech wunderkind Adam Ondra.
The modern “parkour” style that is becoming seen more in climbing competitions is one that the Japanese team – and Tomoa Narasaki in particular – excel at. The setting in the 2019 World Championships ended up locking out some of the outdoor climbers who are generally better at more static Bouldering styles.
Of the Combined IFSC Climbing World Championships qualifiers four were Japanese. Tomoa qualified third with solid showings in all results – interestingly a fourth in speed though he isn’t a specialist. In the finals again came a high result in Speed with 2nd. In Bouldering Tomoa shattered the status quo with three tops when only three others managed even one. Finally in Lead Narasaki was a close second to Jakob Schubert but won with by far the best overall results.
His qualifying place from the Combined results earned him his place in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics as well as a feature in GQ Japan. Not only is he now a style icon but one of the first climbers to try for the historic first Olympic Gold.
Though 2019 marks Tomoa’s first win in the Combined category, he won the Bouldering World Championships in 2016. He finished 5th in 2018’s Combined and 7th in Bouldering though 2018 wasn’t a good year overall for him.
In the IFSC Climbing World Cup 2018 Tomoa placed 2nd in both Combined and Bouldering, with 16th in Lead. In the 2017 cup he took 1st in Combined and 2nd in Bouldering, 15th in Lead.
It looks like Tomoa has started putting more focus into Lead and Speed which require more stamina and continuous power – compared to the focused power and explosiveness he is known for in his Bouldering. In June 2018 he won the first Combined Japan Cup and managed to break the Japanese Speed Record with a time of 6.87 seconds (which has since been beaten by Yoshiyuki Ogata with 6.37).
Tomoa also won the Adidas Rock Stars comp in 2016 and 2017 though didn’t take part in 2018 and doesn’t seem to be in 2019 either.
Where Tomoa Started
Originally a gymnast, Tomoa started climbing at the age of 10 in the gym owned by Sachi Amma’s family (Sachi would go on to become two time World Cup Winner and establish Japan’s first 9b sport climb). Tomoa Narasaki’s style and strengths work to the explosive and burly style of indoor competition climbing.
Tomoa Narasaki Training – Diet – Nutrition
Tomoa Narasaki’s training has been very focused in the last couple of years before the 2020 Olympics. He works with the Japanese national team under head coach Yasui Hiroshi. Tomoa uploads a lot on his instagram and it shows that volume plays a key role in training. Standing at 5’7″ and full of power, he seems to love dynos (jumping moves), has a great vertical leap, and does sick backflips.
Japanese gyms are mainly bouldering gyms, and the setting of routes is usually a lot more “busy” than western style gyms. There tend to be more routes per square meter and routes are also reset quite regularly. Moon boards and “woodie” boards where you can make and share problems are used a fair bit. We don’t know much about Tomoa Narasaki’s diet and nutrition except that his favorite food is “curry and beef tongue“.
He also works one on one with Chiba Tore – well know Japanese trainer whose clients include Akiyo Noguchi. His work involves a large amount of different stretching exercises with body weight, resistance bands, and some interesting aids. With his business ReNew Chiba works with a lot of different athletes, even Champion Bowlers and Rugby players.
Meichi Narasaki – Younger Brother
Tomoa is the older brother of Meichi Narasaki. Meichi also competed in the Climbing World Championships taking a very strong 12th in Lead, 13th in Bouldering, and 5th in Combined. Meichi is 20 and is another very strong member of the Japanese team who consistently places high in national events.
It’s worth noting that the Combined event qualifiers were the first time that climbers had a chance to win an invitation to the 2020 Olympics. The top 7 qualifiers (not finalists) were to be given an invitation, but only two members from each country could take a place. However, Japan as the host country is allowed to pick another entrant and could have chosen Meichi for this – but didn’t even though he was the highest placed qualifier after the top two placing for Japan and was in the top seven.
It must be a hard pill to swallow knowing you placed well enough to enter the Olympics but were denied for two reasons. There are still events through which Meichi Narasaki can qualify but it will be another hard fought battle. It would be amazing to see the two brothers competing in 2020.
Tomoa Narasaki Outdoor Climbing
Tomoa is primarily an indoor boulderer but does boulder outside sometimes. There are a couple of great videos by the North Face where Tomoa Narasaki and Akiyo Noguchi go to Bishop and Hueco Tanks in the US. We’ve embedded the Hueco video below and it’s also well worth watching the longer Bishop video where they both take on some classic highballs in the V10/V11 range.
His highest bouldering grade outdoor is V14 and he has sent both Mandala SD V14 and Direct North V14 in Hueco – both in one day!
Tomoa Narasaki Climbing Shoes and Gear
Tomoa is a fan of Friction Labs chalk, a high end chalk that markets itself as scientifically better for climbing, with better grip and coverage.
Tomoa used to be sponsored by Five Ten and wear their Hiangles. He is now sponsored by Unparalleled Climbing and used their shoes in Hachioji 2019. In Lead and Bouldering Tomoa Narasaki used the Unparallel Regulus climbing shoes. They are a very stiff, downturned, and aggressive shoe for steep and challenging bouldering and sport climbing. You can get these in the EU/UK from EpicTV and the US EpicTV site also sells them.
In Speed climbing, Tomoa used the Unparallel Up Mocc which are a flatter more comfortable slip on, much like the Five Ten Moccasym. The company Unparallel is made up of ex Five Ten workers who left when Adidas bought the Five Ten brand. They still own the designs so rebranded the old designs and updated them slightly – essentially the Regulus is an updated Hiangle.
If you want climbing shoes like Tomoa Narasaki uses and can’t find an Unparallel stockist – we’d suggest the Five Ten Hiangles. They are aggressively downturned with a hooked toe box for steep and challenging bouldering indoors and outside. You can get them in leather or synthetic – leather will stretch slightly more but fit better to your foot, and synthetic stretch less but smell a little worse if not card for properly.
We’ve listed where you can get these shoes below but if you are newer to climbing we’d suggest reading our in depth article on the best beginner climbing shoes of 2019.
Five Ten Hiangle US – From $121 at Amazon – From $131 at Backcountry – $150 at REI – From $131 at Moosejaw
Five Ten Hiangle UK/EU – From £96 at Amazon UK – £85 at Epic TV – £111 Alpine Trek – £91 Ellis Brigham
Five Ten Moccasym US – From $87.50 at Amazon – $99 at Backcountry – $98 at Moosejaw – $125 at REI – $125 at Mountain Gear
Five Ten Moccasym UK/EU – From £60 Amazon UK – £63 at Epic TV – £95 Alpine Trek
Tomoa isn’t competing in the Adidas Rockstars 2019 and is focusing solely on IFSC and Japanese events. The IFSC Climbing World Cup still has three events to go with Kranj, Slovenia at the end of September. After that comes Xiamen, China and finishing up in Inzai, Japan.
You can read our profile on the Combined winner in the Female category – Janja Garnbret here. Remember to bookmark us or follow on facebook, instagram or twitter to keep up to date as we continue to profile the 2020 Olympics hopefuls.