may 15, 2019 - Toyota

SAYURI SUGIMOTO: "Smiling gets me over hardships."

Rhythmic gymnast #sayurisugimoto, 23, works in #Toyota Motor Corporation's External & Public Affairs Division.

Japan Institute of Sports Sciences
Last November, we visited the Japan Institute of Sports Sciences in Tokyo's Akabane area, where #sayurisugimoto, captain of the rhythmic gymnastics "Fairy Japan" national team, holds practices.

Sugimoto successfully auditioned (in 2009) for Japan's national B team when she was only 13 years old. Four years later, in 2013, she made the A team, and, in 2015 (age 19), she was part of a squad that earned Japan's first medal in the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in 40 years, when her team took home the silver in the group ribbon event. This was followed by an eighth-place finish for her squad in the group all-around #competition in the Olympics Games Rio 2016.

Aspirational presence, rival, and No. 1 supporter
Sayuri Sugimoto, Rhythmic Gymnastics
Sugimoto hails from Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture. Ever since she was small, she loved to imitate her sister Takae, who is four years older. It was only natural that this would apply to rhythmic gymnastics, as well. Watching her older sister, who, as a rhythmic gymnast at the time, seemed to be having fun dancing through her routines, drew Sugimoto to the #sport at the age of six.

"My sister was better than I was, and she had achieved some great things. I wanted to become good, too, so I would ask her how to get better or how to do a certain technique. But sometimes she wouldn't tell me, so we'd end up fighting," said Sugimoto, with a laugh.

At times, Sugimoto's desire to catch up with her sister, and her sister's determination to not be outdone, collided. After her sister retired from the #sport, however, she became Sugimoto's biggest supporter. According to Sugimoto, her sister rushed all the way to the other side of the world to cheer her on during her performances at Rio 2016.

Sugimoto says that she only made the national team because she had a famous sister, but we know it took more than that. Still, having an older sister to look up to, and one that is both her rival and biggest fan, without a doubt helped Sugimoto grow to where she is today.