By Sasha Christian/Red Sports
Seletar Island, Thursday, August 15, 2013 – Just 14 years of age, Guy Tanaka has earned his stripes to be one of the best wakeboarders in Singapore.
Guy, born in Japan but living in Singapore for more than half his life, has been representing the Republic in international competitions for five years. His high level of skill has help redefine the standard of wakeboarding in the country. Executing tricks many of us can only dream of doing, it’s evident that this young boy has a bright future in the sport.
His talent for the wakeboarding was discovered on his eighth birthday during a Phuket trip. After seeing a signboard advertising a Cable Park there, Guy’s parents gave their blessing and let him have a go.
Initially, Guy concentrated solely on Cable Wakeboarding (where the wakeboarder is pulled by an overhead cable around a lagoon) and after the first two years he progressed to wakeboarding behind the boat. Wasting no time at all, he learnt the necessary skills and quickly dominated the scene. By 2012, Guy had clinched three world titles in both cable and boat.
This week, Guy aims to take on another feat – the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) Wakeboard World Championships, held once every two years. This year, from August 28 to September 1, they will welcome over 160 competitors from 34 countries in the Korean city of Busan.
At the last Championships, Guy ended up in a tough heat in the semi-final round with two eventual podium winners and narrowly missed the cut for the final. Disappointed but unshaken, Guy went back to Singapore and continued training hard.
Two years later and more experienced, the determined wakeboarder has his eyes set on no less than the gold.
“First, ’cause ‘second place is the first loser.’ You always got to aim for first place and hit your hardest and if that’s not good enough you go back and train harder,” said Guy.
Guy, a student of United World College of South East Asia (UWCSEA), undergoes training that stretches beyond the water. On land, his coach, Suter Tan, uses different training tools. These include other sports such as golf, skateboarding and radio control helicopters to assist in building up Guy’s mind, body and mental discipline. He uses these tools to teach Guy how to identify his own mistakes and rectify the problems quickly.
Suter, who has been coaching Guy for over two years, strongly believes that Guy is now ready for the upcoming Championships.
“I think he will do well because he can assess the situation and come out with a perfect run enough to qualify and then go into the final. He will then see what he needs to do in his final run to beat the rest.”
If he makes it to the final, Guy will have to pull off enough tricks to emerge top. And according to his coach, “he has a pretty deep bag of tricks.”
Training up to six times a week, Guy has been strategically preparing himself for the competition.
“I’m trying to get harder tricks under my sleeve by adding more ‘mobes’ which are flips plus a 360 degree or more rotation, and 720 degree flat spins to step up my game and push myself. I’m also trying to ‘connect’ all my tricks together so it seems more fluid when you watch,” said Guy.
Guy’s attitude and level of maturity shows the benefit of Suter’s training. When asked if he feels nervous before competitions, Guy said: “I always feel nervous before any competition, it’s just whether or not I can control it or how nervous I get. I usually try to not think about everyone else’s ride or about how well I will or should do. I just sit down listen to some tunes and visualize my run over and over.”
Coach Suter sees that Guy has the “desire to excel and be the best rider he can be in Singapore and maybe in the near future, best rider in the world”.
Those are big dreams but this dedicated 14-year old knows that he cannot walk the walk alone.
“I would say my greatest pillars of support have been my parents because they are always there to support me with my riding and everything I do. Also my coach Suter and sponsors Billabong, Razer, and Vonzipper,” said Guy.
It’s easy for a 14-year-old to be distracted by all the buzz but Guy’s love for the sport remains pure.
“Wakeboarding is a way of expression, to express how you feel, to release yourself and challenge yourself. Standing on water flying through the air and the feeling of landing a new trick is like getting a perfect score on a test, it’s addictive. You just want more,” said Guy.
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