Uno Shoma "giving back" and reaching out through new online channel

PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist plans to speak up via recently launched YouTube channel, and says "I don't think people know how much I love gaming".

By Shintaro Kano

Uno Shoma will be the first to tell you he did not have a great figure skating season. But amid the trials, tribulations and a global pandemic, the Japanese star has found his voice and a new passion - YouTube.

"YouTubers amaze me. I know how incredible they are, now that I'm doing it myself", the PyeongChang 2018 men's silver medallist said on Tuesday (25 August) during a two-hour YouTube sit-down with professional gamer Shogun.

"I don't really know what motivates me to do anything. I don’t like losing so that definitely has something to do with it. But I like going through the process of improving, getting better at things - be it gaming or skating.

"And now, I want to use my influence, my voice to help the world become a better place. I’ve never really had the desire to do things for other people before.

"But this past season I wasn't great and only then did I truly come to appreciate the people who have been there for me through thick and thin. That's when I realised I wanted to give back.

"Skating was become something I felt like I had to do but now it’s become something I want to do again. I haven't been very good at saying things like this but it's how I feel now - and I want to say it".

"In any other year, this is usually the time for ice shows but the year has been dead and I wanted to do something. I wasn’t on social media speaking my mind like others but at the same time, I wanted to do something different from everyone". Uno said, referring to the YouTube channel he launched earlier this month.

Home alone

While uncertainty continues to surround figure skating and the entire sporting community due to the coronavirus, staying home has not been an issue for Uno who, thanks to his love for gaming, confesses he has very little urge to leave his house - COVID or not.

"I never go out. I don’t need to eat out. I don't really have the desire", he says.

"I don't think people know how much I love gaming. Coming back to Japan after one competition I didn't do very well in, I pushed myself to train and didn't play games for three weeks.

"That was absolutely brutal to me, not being able to game for three weeks. I don't think people understand how hard that was".

Uno said ever since he was a child, he has never been one to dwell on things and dismisses those who say he is mentally strong. "I might even be below average in terms of mental strength", he said.

If anything, he is prepared to walk or flee from pressure situations if the 22-year-old feels that is the best course of action for him to take.

"I'm not afraid to run if I have to. I know some see that as a sign of weakness but not me. I will run if necessary".

With a newfound platform, Uno Shoma plans to speak his mind.

No regrets

The 2019-2020 season was a turbulent one for Uno.

While he held off the imperious Hanyu Yuzuru to capture his fourth successive national championship in December, Uno, officially without a coach until shaking hands with Stephane Lambiel, failed to qualify for the Grand Prix Finals and pulled out of the Four Continents needing time to ready himself for the world championships.

While some might be concerned with the path Uno has led post-PyeongChang, he does not see it that way.

Asked if he would take back any of the decisions he has made over his career - or his life for that matter - Uno's answer was unshakable: "No.

"I don’t see any experience as a waste of time. If Uno Shoma had to live his life all over again, I don’t think I could lead the same life even if I tried. I really have zero regrets."

"Failure is failure only if you look at it like that. Whether anything ends in failure is up to you. If you learn or take away from an experience, it’s not failure.

"When I was a kid I was always asked what my future goal was and I always said I didn't have one. I was told by adults to say it's the Olympics but it's the only reason I said so back then.

"But as I got older I asked myself what it is that I really wanted to do. I know the Olympics means the world to a lot of people and this might sound rude, but the Games is not my ultimate goal.

"I don’t think too much about anything - not even about what I'm going to do tomorrow. Today, this day right here, means everything to me. I don’t really think about the Olympics because I don’t overthink about tomorrow - or the future beyond for that matter.

"I've always taken it one day at a time and only then did the Olympics become a reality for me".