Kanoa Igarashi on Olympic experience and Noah Lyles bromance

ICHINOMIYA, JAPAN - JULY 26: Kanoa Igarashi of Team Japan is pictured after his men's round 3 heat on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on July 26, 2021 in Ichinomiya, Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
ICHINOMIYA, JAPAN - JULY 26: Kanoa Igarashi of Team Japan is pictured after his men's round 3 heat on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on July 26, 2021 in Ichinomiya, Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Japanese surfing medallist Igarashi is confident his friend Lyles will end up on the Olympic podium: "I think we'll be seeing some gold around his neck for sure."

Friendship and camaraderie are foundations of the Olympic Games and, despite the pandemic, Tokyo 2020 is no different.

And there's something of a bromance between Japanese surf star Kanoa Igarashi and sprint hero Noah Lyles .

'Yeah, you know, Noah, he's a really good friend of mine," Igarashi told Olympics.com.

Igarashi is able to kick back and relax after claiming silver in the first Olympic surfing competition at his home Games.

He added, "We had dinner last night together in the village and we were just talking about our preparations and, you know, it's so crazy, connecting with an Olympic athlete where our sports are complete opposites.

"We're just laughing at how opposite our sports were, but our pressures were the exact same. The things that go through our mind mine are so similar."

But while Igarashi can chill, Lyles is revving up for his event with the 200m qualifiers taking place on Tuesday (3 August) and the final the following day.

"You know, he has a 200m coming up on Tuesday, I believe," continues Igarashi.

"And he was just saying how, you know, each day is just falling towards that moment, and how he loves the pressure as well.

"And how he runs better on track than in his training. He's such a great guy and such an amazing talent. You know, I think he's going to do some amazing things for his sport."

Igarashi is in no doubt that 24-year-old Lyles, the reigning world champion at 200m and in the U.S. 4x100m relay team, can deliver on Wednesday, and that it'll be the beginning of a sparkling Olympic career here at his first Games.

I think this will be one step towards his his legacy and, I think we'll be seeing some gold around his neck for sure.

Igarashi on how to block out the noise

When it comes to focusing on what's important and blocking everything else out, the silver-medal surfer has some good advice he can give to Lyles.

"I wrote it down on a piece of paper, told myself to block out the noise and look for the signals," he says.

"What I wanted to tell myself was kind of like, there's so much going on but my signal is the horn or the buzzer or the sound of the waves, and that's what kind of got me going and that's what put me in my zone.

"I guess that little phrase put me into that mindset the whole week of Olympic medal. It was such a weird zone that I put my head space in, but, there's so much going on around me, I was able to focus on my job and I got to walk away with a medal for my country."

He managed to 'block out the noise' so effectively, that it only hit him after the event how much hype there was surrounding him.

Kanoa Igarashi relishing Tokyo 2020 pressure - and medal experience
02:28

Japan's Kanoa Igarashi has the weight of a nation on his shoulders but the diligent surfer seems to be enjoying it. “Every day becomes a little bit more pressure packed," he tell us. "I have plenty more years left after this year to sleep in. Put the foot down and grit your teeth."

Igarashi deals with the pressure, returns to normality

"I didn't realise how much pressure was on my shoulders until it was over," Igarashi says.

"I felt like people don't realise that the Olympics is a four-year-long event, you know, I feel like I've been competing in the Olympics for the last four years

"But I got so used to the pressure... I just got used to it and I just felt like it was... Normal... And then as soon as it was over, it was like this crazy relieving feeling, kind of empty feeling, sort of sad that it was over but happy that it happened.

"I didn't realise the amount of sleep I was losing, the amount of social time that I missed out on and just like little stuff like that. Now that it's over, I kind of realised that my life's kind of sort of turning back normal in a way.

"Although, I mean, this Olympic preparation life is amazing and as a competitor, it's as good as it gets... It's going to be nice to enjoy a little bit of time without that pressure, but I'm going to miss it for sure.

"And I can't wait for it to come back on. And I can't wait for Paris."

ICHINOMIYA, JAPAN - JULY 27: Kanoa Igarashi of Team Japan looks dejected after his loss in the men's Gold Medal match against Italo Ferreira of Team Brazil on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on July 27, 2021 in Ichinomiya, Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
ICHINOMIYA, JAPAN - JULY 27: Kanoa Igarashi of Team Japan looks dejected after his loss in the men's Gold Medal match against Italo Ferreira of Team Brazil on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tsurigasaki Surfing Beach on July 27, 2021 in Ichinomiya, Chiba, Japan. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
2021 Getty Images

The Olympic roller coaster ride: "We made history by surfing"

There are extreme emotions at an Olympics Games, and Igarashi experienced the highs and the lows.

"Obviously, the Olympics, your emotions are running so high. Every little thing is just magnified and multiplied by a million.

"When I was happy, I was so happy. I was so high. And then when I was sad, I was just so down, sad, you know, every little thing throughout the week, whether it was in or out of the water, everything was just... It was a roller coaster ride and it was so hard.

"But then that moment when it finished and, you know, obviously great to medal, but I wanted to win gold. There was that moment of like... there's so many emotions, like a sigh of relief, but then this kind of sadness I didn't win the gold, I had the opportunity.

We made history surfing. It was in the Olympics.

"I had a golden opportunity right in front of me. I didn't give myself the right opportunities and chances to win the heat. I was just kind of like, you know, slap myself in the face and then this really thankful feeling that that it happened in the circumstances that we're in, the fact that we were able to run the Olympics.

"We made history surfing. It was in the Olympics. And I think we put on a really good show for the whole world. So, you know, we had Mother Nature that was a star, really, that pretty much gave us a perfect platform to do all that.

It was like a thankful moment mixed with sad emotions. But it was definitely one of those moments that I'll never forget.