Shino Matsuda may be a name you've been hearing a lot recently – and it's no surprise. The teen shredder from Japan has (basically) qualified for the Olympics at just 16-years-old. And with the backing of the land of the rising sun behind her, it's likely Shino's path is set for dizzying heights.
Anyway, you'll recall back in September, the ISA World Surfing Games took place at Kisakihama Beach in Miyazaki, Japan. Shino is one of four women to provisionally qualify for the Olympic games next year. Although falling in Repechage Round 7, Matsuda earned a continental qualification slot for Japan as she placed the highest finishing surfer from Asia.
Now, the Vissla World ISA Junior Surfing Championships is about to kick off in Huntington Beach and young Shino is hungry for more.
Tell us a bit about yourself, where are you from? And when did you start surfing?
Hi, I'm from Chigasaki Shonan, Japan. I was six-years-old when I started surfing.
There’s got to be lots of secret, tucked away spots in Japan – do you chase swells?
I usually surf close to home at Chigasaki. If there is no waves in Shonan, I'll go to Chiba. But, yes, I'll go on surf trips searching for good waves. It really depends on the occasion but I sometimes get to secret spots.
And with the Olympics, you’ve provisionally qualified – what's that done for the confidence levels?
My first goal was to be selected as a national team member for ISA. I was happy to get the highest result for Japanese women, and as a result, I could get closer to being in the Olympics. Now, I've got to prepare and get fully confirmed for the Olympics next year, go to do my best at the ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) next year.
Have you ever thought about Olympic qualification before?
I was only thinking about winning the Japan Open, which is the qualification competition for WSG as a Japanese national team member. In order to win the Japan Open, I really had to concentrate my mind and, that worked as it got me first place.
Of course as same as the Japan Open, for WSG I aimed for the medal. At the same time, I thought about becoming number one for the Asian regions which is the qualification to be in the Olympic Games. First of all, as Team Japan, we tried to be one team to achieve that. Personally, I imagined in order to make my dream come true, if i have a strong mind and focus and believe in myself, it will come true and I was able to attain that result.
And how about the QS and CT? Would you like to qualify for them too?
Of course the CT is the dream and my goal. I have not gotten a good result on the QS this year. For the last QS6000, I would like to get a good feeling for the competition and strengthen myself, physically. I would like to get enough points to participate on QS10,000 events.
So being provisionally qualified, does it take the pressure off the Juniors coming up?
Uhmm, I don't feel I have that much pressure with the WJSC. However, I could achieve a personal best result as 2nd place on last year's WJSC, and 1st place as a Team. That was a great feeling and atmosphere that I would like to feel it again. Also, I really want a gold medal. I am looking forward to surfing as a team competition, it sets my motivation high.
Have you surfed at Huntington beach?
Yeah, I go often for competitions. I went last year for WJSC and US Open. Huntington is a beachbreak and not an easy wave, but where I usually surf is a beachie too, so it's kind of comparable.
Who do you take inspiration from?
I respect all the top surfers really, not anyone in particular. One thing I can say is that the Brazilians are amazing in terms of mental strength. It is something which Japanese surfers don't have yet. They are mentally strong as an athlete and I respect that.