For more than 40 years in Tucson Yoichi Tomita has been training gymnasts in Tucson at Gymnastics World.
Kerri Strug, the Tucsonan famous for her vault in the 1996 Olympics, was one of the many people he has worked with over the years.
Tomita was supposed to be in Toyko for the entirety of the games with Team USA, but instead he was only allowed to be there prior to the competitions. Just recently back from his trip, he is continuing his mission to coach the next generation of gymnasts in the area.
Right now, he is preparing Adriel Izai Perales Valencia, a 17-year-old, for a spot in the 2024 Olympics.
"It's a boys dream becoming a man's job almost," Valencia said about the idea of watching the Olympics knowing he could be there in four years.
However, for Tomita its more than just the competitions for the athletes he works with.
"I think what the gymnastics can do is to really make a contribution to a person's growth," Tomita said. "Not just flips and handstands. You learn to persevere, get up after you fail, and that's part of the things that gymnastics can teach."
He said that growth is the most important thing for him.
"It's so rewarding to see the kids succeed not just in gymnastics but in life," Tomita said.
Tomita said he focuses on the athlete as both a gymnast and as a person.
Many of the gymnasts at the Gymnastics World look up to the members of Team USA, especially Simone Biles.
Tomita said he is wishing her the best after she withdrew from the all-around competition.
"There are tremendous pressures that the gymnasts deal with," Tomita said.
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