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Nagisa Takahashi, Athletics – Challenging “Women’s oldest record” Enjoyment of building up record of “1cm”

2024.05.23

Japanese record of 1m96cm for the women’s high jump is the “oldest” record which hasn’t been updated since 2001. Many years have passed since many players have tried and hampered to break the record. 24 year old Nagisa Takahashi is the most closest to breaking the record. She won her second consecutive world championship titles. With her impressive tall height of 173cm, she has achieved her personal best of 1m88cm this May. The hope of high jump athlete with a remarkable growth is continuing to challenge herself by facing challenges while having fun.

Nagisa Takahashi
Born in 2000 in Tokyo. Ranked 8th in Japan in the women’s high jump (As of May 2024)

After graduating from Tokyo High School and Nihon University, she joined Masonwork Group and joined SENKO Co., Ltd. from Jan. 2024. Starting with 2022 Japan Athletics Championships which she has won for the first time, she has achieved consecutive victories in the following championships in 2023. She has become one of the leading Japanese athlete in the women’s high jump. In 2024, she turned over a new leaf and transferred to SENKO Co., Ltd. She has consecutively achieved a personal best in Feb., and jumped to a ranking of 8th in Japan. She has set a record of 1m88cm this May.
She is a young high jump athlete with high hopes who can rewrite the 20 years history.

 

“Best choice in life”

――How did you get started in high jump?

When I did high jumps during PE class in Junior High School, I was able to jump higher than my classmates. My PE teacher was the advisor of the athletics club, and asked me “Can you play in the tournament?”. I belonged to the badminton club at that time, but I actually won when I played in the regional tournament. It was a surprise for me too. What’s more, I also won in the Metropolitan tournament held ahead!That’s when I decided to seriously start to do high jumps.

――You are receiving training in High School from former Japanese record holder, Naoyuki Daigo What did you learn the most from him?

I learned how to approach athletics. Up till then, I haven’t been able to focus seriously in one thing, and I started doing athletics without taking it too seriously. I honestly didn’t understand what it means to “do seriously”…
But Mr. Daigo was always doing it with that thought to “win in the inter-high school competitions”. He thoroughly taught me what it means to do with a serious effort. I am very grateful for him because he always led me to the right direction who was still very much a beginner and couldn’t do anything.

Won in her first tournament
Seriously began high jumping from High School

――You have developed very fast since you have seriously started high jumping. But how do you feel about it?

First of all, it was great to have been taught by Mr. Daigo when I was still a beginner. I was able to firmly establish the basics. It is difficult to fix when you have a habit. I was able to build up high jumping from completely blank. Based on that, my record improved at the same time as the base of my body rose.

――Your choice at High School was good.

Yes, that’s right. I think I made the best choice in my life!

Trained under former Japanese record holder, Naoyuki Daigo during High School
Learned not only techniques but also attitude towards high jumping
*Courtesy of Nagisa Takahashi

 

Seeing the big stage to become stronger

――You broke your personal best by 1m86 and 1m87cm within a short period of time in Feb. Which part do you think was good?

Since the last season, I have been continuously saying to myself that “I can jump 1m88cm” if I can make the jump from the beginning with my own rhythm and the right timing. It finally took shape. If I was able to achieve this result from the beginning of this season, it means that my feeling I got last season wasn’t wrong. I became confident to know that “I can achieve this record” if I jump with my own rhythm and the right timing.

――What kind of training did you do to keep your own rhythm and right timing?

Winter was the time to increase my basic skills so I did some long training runs and weight training to build up my body. I do not think I have completely achieved it yet. But I think I was able to jump because my basic skills have improved. I will make minor adjustments towards the beginning of the national season. I am extremely delightful that my assiduous effort lead to these results and I have now reached the point to challenge 1m90cm.

Consecutively updated her personal best in Feb.
1m90cm record is coming into view
*Courtesy of Nagisa Takahashi

――The Japanese record of 1m96cm have not been updated for more than 20 years. I assume this will be your goal, but what parts do you think needs improvement?

It is a really amazing record. It is an amazing record that I cannot just say “I will definitely break the record, but I will take it step by step to be able to challenge someday and hopefully be able to say “my goal is to break the record” in about three years. What is necessary to do that…all of it! Naomi Hida coach told me that “You cannot achieve that level unless you have the power to compete with male athletes”.That is one of the reasons why I made my choice to move my training location to Tokai University in order to set a training environment with male athletes. It is difficult just competing by yourself to become stronger. I am aiming to catch up while competing against male athletes who jump 2m.

――It is difficult to achieve that just by competing by yourself.

Yes, there are limits… That is why I am challenging international tournaments now and I am having a lot of fun! It is normal to jump 1m80cm. I believe it is necessary to set myself in an environment to compete at a high level.

To become stronger
Willing to change the environment
*Courtesy of Nagisa Takahashi

“Break the oldest record” = Building up 1cm

――What were you impressed about when you participated in international tournaments?

Everyone was quite friendly. Foreign athletes called out saying “That was a great jump” or “That was close” after finishing my jump. Nicola Olyslagers of Team Australia who was a bronze medalist at 2023 Budapest World Athletics Championships also asked for a handshake knowing that I was the only Asian athlete and said “Thank you for coming”. I felt a big heart of a strong person.

――Women’s record in other events are broken one after another, but is there something that you have become conscious about?

I really feel they are amazing…like Mariko Morimoto in triple jump and Sumire Hata in long jump. I sometimes get a little frustrated. But my coach says “You just have to become like them when you build up a similar career. You will attract attention when you break the record in high jump after a few years. So lets build up your effort to achieve that.” It is very cool to “Break the oldest record!!”.

“Oldest Japanese high jumping record” in the women’s athletics
Can she make a new history?

――It might be mentally difficult to challenge records. How do you challenge yourself daily?

I do not consider too much about achieving records, but I try to overcome the challenges towards the next tournament. I am able to take part in tournaments with that awareness after becoming an adult. That is really fun for me. Before I knew it, I was able to jump as high as this and aim for 1m90cm. It is important to build up 1cm steadily and not suddenly aim for a big goal. Thankfully, I feel my jumps are stable now, and it has become my strengths.

――When talking to you, it seems like you are enjoying yourself to face challenges.

I am grateful for my coach. My coach tells me “You feel uncertain when your head is filled with setting records. Then you make yourself uncomfortable. So I want you to enjoy challenging yourself.” My coach herself was that kind of athlete who always faced challenges and it became fun once she got over it. That is why she provides training so that I can have the same idea. She persistently tells me until I understand the challenge. I will definitely be aware of it. Before I know it, I was going with the flow.

Facing challenges while having fun
The word “Having fun” came out many times

From thinking “I am not good enough” to “I want to take part”

――Paris 2024 Olympics will be held this year, and the World Athletics Championships Tokyo 2025. Do you have a future roadmap of your own?

Since it has been decided that the World Athletics Championships Tokyo 2025 will be held, I have definitely wanted to take part. I cannot participate in the Olympics or the World Athletics Championships unless I earn points since it became a ranking system. I really look at the difference after playing in one place after another in international tournaments and checking the points.
I am thinking to make this year a challenging year towards the future. However, I realized that I was 30th in the ranking・・・I thought I could aim for Paris Olympics. If I participate in the Olympics I could compete completely different. I wish to make it to finals at the World Athletics Championships Tokyo 2025 after gaining experience in Paris・・・I believe I will be able to make a stable jump of 1m90cm and hopefully aim for a Japanese record at the Asian Games held in Aichi in 2026.

――What kind of place is the World Athletics Championships for you?

There are many athletes in the same age participating. Before I thought “I am not good enough”, but it has changed to “I want to take part” since looking at the ranking. I think I can change again if I participate, and feel excited to challenge.

――What do you look forward and expect at the World Athletics Championships Tokyo 2025?

It will be boring not to see Japanese athletes in the women’s high jump when it is the opportunity to be seen by many people. That is why I definitely want to take part! I have no particular image as I have never actually participated before. But I am looking forward to feel how amazing it is.

 

I like Space-time dramas

――Please tell us about your personal side from here. How do you spend your holidays?

If I have a day off, I would like to spend time out in nature, going to the sea or river, and seeing the autumn leaves in the fall. I am always feeling tense so for my day off after the tournament I try to go to some nice and quiet place rich in nature. I recently went to Hakone. I don’t feel relaxed staying at home. I finally can feel relaxed when I am spending time out in nature and think “Let’s do our best again”.

――Where do you want to go if you have a long holiday?

I want to go some place far away! I went to Hawaii last year at the end of season. That is something I enjoy after becoming an adult.

*Courtesy of Nagisa Takahashi

 

――On the contrary, what do you do at home?

Well, recently I am interested in old TV dramas. I saw the TV drama “Mother Game” and “ROOKIES”. I can’t explain why I chose that. But I like “space-time” TV dramas which takes you back in time or making life changing choices.

――Like the TV drama, “Extremely Inappropriate!”?

Yes that is right!I like that kind of dramas.

――Who is your favorite actor?

I used to watch TV dramas starring the actor Kento Yamazaki. I really liked the drama that I watched when I was in High School, “Having someone you like”! Nowadays I don’t have much time to watch dramas in real time so I watch old dramas through a subscription way.

――What are you into these days

I like to go to cafes. I like to find fancy cafes at the local area after training or therapy. I just like to drop by those places rather than going there with a purpose. It is such fun. When I go with my friends I will keep talking with them, and I just work silently on my competition diary or listen to music when I go there alone.

Café-hopping at the local area I just dropped by
*Courtesy of Nagisa Takahashi

To be an athlete who attracts attention and athletes who can be supported

――You suddenly captured the spotlight when you made your name on the TV program “Sanma’s Lovemate” in the 27-hour TV program. Please tell us your honest opinion when you heard that.

I was surprised! I heard this from my manager and thought “What?”. My friends and people who knew me told me “You were chosen by Sanma” whenever I met them. I got more followers on social media because maybe someone watching the program searched my name. I am very grateful.

――What do you think about attracting attention?

I am grateful to attract attention. I have come to think that “I have to try harder”. I really didn’t have confidence in myself back in the day. I didn’t want people to think that I was “getting carried away too much”. But I now strongly want to achieve results that won’t let people down.
When I entered the Japan Championships before, I was invited to a meet-and-greet with the fans and joined with Kazuki Kurokawa. Everyone asked for my signature even though they probably didn’t know me at that time… I want to become an athlete that they will think “I got a signature from that person”. It is important to be known to people, and I would like to continue to become an athlete who can be supported.

“Become an athlete who can be supported”
*Courtesy of Nagisa Takahashi

――Who would you recommend as an athlete other than yourself?

I truly admire Mako Fukube. She holds the Japanese record in the 100m hurdles, and I have become in a relationship where I can talk little by little with her since meeting her for the first time at training. I was really really happy when she responded to my results on social network saying “I admire you that you build up your efforts by 1cm” or “I get inspired by your efforts”. I also admire her feeling towards the competition and strong determination. I met her for the first time when I was in university, she is so kind despite that she is a top athlete. I really admire her and she is my favorite athlete!

 

With the two who changed her life

――How do you analyze your personality?

I often concentrate on one thing. Maybe I am a perfectionist? That is why people think I am a “cold person”… Maybe it is because I don’t respond that well.

――I don’t think so. You are soft spoken and we don’t think you are cold hearted person.

That’s a relief. Maybe they feel a cold response because my words come to an abrupt end. Also I sometimes speak my mind clearly or don’t. I sometimes think that I am a “cold hearted” person when I don’t speak my mind clearly. Maybe I have a negative personality including those things. But now I have become to think positively about the competitions.

 

――That is surprising. Who has influenced you the most?

Mr. Daigo and his wife, Naomi Hida coach. If I hadn’t met them, I would not have continued athletics. I was taught the feeling to constantly work hard toward one goal, and they are both a big part of my life who made me realize to believe in myself to move forward.
The word of Mr. Daigo leaves a huge impact and has something deep inside his conversations. That is why I began to think before saying something after meeting him. When I say something shallow when I am yelled at, he says “Don’t speak with perfunctory words” He really teaches me a lesson to think ahead.
On the contrary, Naomi Hida coach is like a friend I can talk about anything. She told me before training that “If you lie to me we cannot train together”. This is not only about athletics but for everything. That is how we can be like friends. We sometimes go to cafes and go out to eat. We can talk about anything and she can understand what I want to say and put them into words when I can’t express myself in words. I admire her so much.

Mr. Daigo and his wife who has changed Nagisa’s life
She has seen a significant growth since meeting them
*Courtesy of Nagisa Takahashi

――Finally, please give us a message for our readers who are looking forward to the World Athletics Championships Tokyo 25!

You may not be interested if there are no Japanese athletes in the women’s high jump, so I hope that I can take part and attract as many people as possible who will come to watch to support. I hope that they will feel the fun of high jumping. I will do my best to be able to participate, so please come and see the games!

X:@__na1520

《Senko track and field 》
Web:https://www.senko.co.jp/track_field/

text by Moritaka Ohashi
photographs by Uta Mukuo

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