Narasaki Tomoa: Top things to know about the sport climbing favourite for Tokyo 2020

He's one of Japan’s strongest gold-medal favourites for the Olympic Games in 2021. Here are the key facts to be aware of about the 23-year-old reigning men's world champion.

By Shintaro Kano
Picture by 2019 Getty Images

A new sport calls for a new hero.

Sport climbing is set to make its Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021, where the top seed in the men’s event, Narasaki Tomoa, will be carrying the hopes of the host country.

Want to know the man behind the 2019 combined world champion? Find out below.

How it all started for Narasaki Tomoa

Before Narasaki the sport climber, there was Narasaki the gymnast.

For six years until the fourth grade, Narasaki was into gymnastics, going as far as the East Japan regionals. His goal was to become an Olympic gymnast. 

Then one day, with no forewarning, he suddenly got the shudders. That would be the end of gymnastics for Narasaki.

The following year he took up sport climbing after tagging along his older brother to the gym.

Things have turned out pretty well. Narasaki still credits his gymnastics background for his success as a sport climber.

Japan's record setter

Alongside the combined title, Narasaki is also the IFSC world bouldering champion in 2016 and 2019.

He is the Japan speed record-holder of 5.72 seconds, a mark he set in 6 March, 2021, and is slowly but surely gaining on Reza Alipourshenazandifar's world record of 5.48.

Narasaki was the first Japanese to break six seconds, in October 2020.

Narasaki's roots

Narasaki Tomoa was born on 22 June, 1996, Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture, two prefectures north of Tokyo.

He comes from a family of five, with two brothers. His younger brother, Meichi, is also a professional climber who was in the race to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

He's ripped

As a result of training as much as eight hours a day, the 1.70-meter, 60-kilogram Narasaki has a body fat percentage of two.

That's t-w-o percent. Just 2.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, he's attracted a range of sponsors including fashion and lifestyle brands, and was named in the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list for 2021.

Narasaki the Ninja?

It's said Narasaki is known as the "Ninja", for his incredible physical ability to scale the walls at will.

But Tomoa is rarely called that in Japan though. The nickname's origin is overseas.

He'll be climbing on the home wall at the Tokyo 2020 Games in 2021.

The home fans will be fully behind his bid for gold as sport climbing makes its Olympic debut.