Japan are hosting the 2021 Olympics 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.
Who Is Tomoa Narasaki?
Tomoa Narasaki is Japan’s strongest male climber and their top hope for Olympic Gold. He’s been competing for nearly 10 years and has grown stronger every season. In the last few years he’s taken multiple Gold placings in Bouldering Combined in the World Championship’s and Cups.
His style is powerful and explosive. He’s really well matched to modern Bouldering styles that involved co-ordination moves with hops between volumes and big leaps to bad holds. That power also spills over into him being a surprisingly good Speed climber plus bagging decent results in Lead.
How Old Is Tomoa Narasaki?
Toma is 24 years old and was born on June 22nd 1996.
Tomoa Narasaki Height
Tomoa is 170 cm or 5 foot 7 inches tall. He weighs around 58 kg or 128 lbs.
Tomoa Narasaki Ape Index
When Did Tomoa Narasaki Start Climbing?
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.
He’s also known as Narasaki Tomoa as in Japan the family name comes first with the personal name after. Tomoa was born in Utsunomiya in the Tochigi prefecture, just an hour or two from Tokyo.
Is Tomoa Narasaki In The Olympics?
Yes, Tomoa was the first person to officially qualify for Olympic Climbing when he won the IFSC Combined Championships in 2019. He took first place in an impressive show by taking first in Boulder, and second in both Speed and Lead.
Will Tomoa Narasaki Win The Olympics?
Tomoa Narasaki may well win Olympic Sport Climbing in 2021 and make history by being the first Gold medalist in the sport. He’s seeded first so will get the best placings and is expected to get the win. He has been fairly consistent in the past few years so as as he performs his best on the day could very well take it.
Recently 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. If he can place first or second in Bouldering and stay in the top four for Lead and Speed he’ll be in a great position.
His biggest competitor is Adam Ondra who is the most likely to win in Lead and does very well in Bouldering but isn’t great at Speed. It’s going to be a tough comp as there is a lot of pressure and strong competition at the top.
Tomoa is on home ground as he lives in Tokyo where the event is being held. He will have already seen the Lead and Bouldering walls and we’d be surprised if there isn’t a replica of at least the Bouldering wall that’s being used. He almost exclusively climbs indoors and Japan’s coaching team and facilities are literally the best in the world.
More Japanese Olympic Climbers
– Who Is Miho Nonaka?
– Who Is Sohta Amagasa?
2019 IFSC World Climbing Championships – Olympic Qualifiers
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 a couple of times. Not only is he now a style icon but one of the first climbers to try for the historic first Olympic Gold.
Tomoa Narasaki Bouldering
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.
Though 2019 marks Tomoa’s first win in the Combined Championships 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.
He again took Gold in the Combined and Bouldering in the Climbing World Cup 2019 – showing his strongest results yet. There are very high hopes for Tomoa to take Gold at the first Olympics Climbing event.
Tomoa also won the Adidas Rock Stars bouldering comp in 2016 and 2017 though didn’t take part in 2018 and doesn’t seem to be in 2019 either.
Tomoa Narasaki Lead Climbing
While Lead isn’t necessarily a weakness for Tomoa, it’s where he lags behind compared to his other results. He’s never taken a 1st place in the World Cup or Champs but has taken a couple of 2nd’s in individual Cups. Because of his build and focus on strength he does well on individual moves but often tires near the end compared to the comparatively leaner Lead specialists like Ondra or Jakob Schubert.
Tomoa Narasaki Speed Climbing
For a Boulderer Tomoa has a great Speed climbing time and consistency. 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. That record was beaten a couple of times but Tomoa recently took it back in March 2021 at the Climbing Cup Japan with a very impressive 5.73 seconds.
What Is The Tomoa Skip?
On the official Speed route there are a zig zag of holds stretching up the wall. The fastest way up is to stay in as straight of a line as possible. Climbers also don’t need to touch every hold so can choose to skip them.
Over the years there have been many routes picked that skip holds. An early one was called the “Reza” after a previous Speed record holder Reza Alipour. He skipped the third hold on the route entirely with a huge dynamic jump from the start holds. This is now the standard for most climbers.
The next big evolution in the route was when Tomoa started to skip the third left foothold. He dyno’s to the third like Reza but brings his left foot up the handhold and pushes straight up from there. This shaves of a portion of a second as it gives another big acceleration after the initial push off of the floor.
It’s now called the “Tomoa skip” and it’s a big part of most Speed climbers strategies. Read more – What Is Speed Climbing?
Tomoa Narasaki Training Program, 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 – Tomoa Narasaki’s 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. Paris 2024 is still on the cards for Meichi and probably Tomoa and it’s very likely both will fight for qualification then.
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 8B+ / V14 and he has sent both Mandala SD V14 and Direct North V14 in Hueco – both in one day!
Tomoa Narasaki Climbing Shoes + Gear
Tomoa is a fan of (and sponsored by) Friction Labs chalk, a high end chalk that markets itself as scientifically better for climbing, with better grip and coverage. He’s also sponsored by the North Face, au, and gets some free clothes when modelling!
Tomoa has his own climbing shoe model now – The TN Pro. He helped design it, and it looks like a variation on Unparallel’s other models – specifically suited to Tomoa’s needs.
Tomoa used to be sponsored by Five Ten and wear their Hiangles. He is now sponsored by Unparallel 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.
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 Narasaki Injury
For someone who has climbed so long as such a high level, Tomoa doesn’t seem to have had any major injuries or setbacks. Injury is really common in climbing – usually a muscle strain or tear in the shoulders, arm, or knees. Worse is a finger injury which can set people back or years or end careers. Tomoa’s continuing health is definitely a major factor in his success and we hope he stays this fit for the Olympics and onwards.
Tomoa Narasaki YouTube
Tomoa has a YouTube channel with Yudai Ikeda and Akiyo Noguchi where they talk about technique, do Q&As, plus fun competitions. There are some really good videos on co-ordination problems and a good one on double dyno’s below. Turn on subtitles with CC for English translations.
Tomoa Narasaki Instagram + Social Media
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.
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