Freshman Shota Ogomori won a silver medal in the 2018 Asian Games, also known as Asiad, this past summer. But amidst the cheering and celebration, Ogomori said the intensely competitive atmosphere and the international scope of the games made him nervous.
“I still have trouble maintaining pressure and using it as a good influence because I get a little nervous and make mistakes,” said Ogomori, a business major.
The Asian Games, regulated by the Asian Games Federation, is a multi-sport competition for Asian countries. Like the Olympics, the games are held every four years.
Ogomori has been riding horses since he was two years old, and his father rode for a Japanese national team. Ogomori followed in his footsteps despite it being rare for men to ride horses competitively in Japan, he said.
Ogomori, who was nominated by the Japanese Federation to be on a shortlist of competitors for the 2020 Olympics, said his strength comes from his versatility with riding horses — he rode eight this summer and spends up to an hour a day training one horse.
He had humble goals when he was younger, like learning how to jump a certain height or how to maneuver around obstacles. But now that he’s competed in the Asian Games, he hopes to make it to the Olympics. It’s been his goal for the past two years, he said.
“I competed in the top levels, but there’s always somebody better than me, there’s always somebody faster than me,” Ogomori said. “And it’s so good to see different people, different levels, different environments, and learn from that.”
Training for the games includes making sure the horses are healthy and well-trained as well as consulting with team members and practicing riding technique, Ogomori said.
Ogomori is the only male on Chapman’s equestrian team. He likes the recreational attitude of Chapman, he said, and he hopes remembering to have fun on the team will pay off in bigger competitions, like the Olympics.
Riding in a team environment is also good practice, as Western teams tend to be more competitive than Japanese teams, he said.
“The Western teams really work in unison and they’re really focused on teamwork,” Ogomori said. “That applies to the Olympics or the bigger competitions where you have team competitions.”
Catie Woodward, president of the equestrian team, said despite Ogomori’s experience competing at an international level, he stays grounded.
“He is always willing to go with the flow of the team and participate, even as the only male on the team,” Woodward said.
While riding is an individual sport, participating in team competitions like college shows or the Asian Games, helps Ogomori appreciate his fellow riders.
“At the end of the day, when you’re competing, you’re alone in there,” Ogomori said. “But doing a team competition, like in the Asian Games, or what we do here on the Chapman equestrian team, it really gives you a sense that you have to be positive and carry that on to the next person.”