Naomi Osaka Discusses the Olympics, Mental Health and Training


  • Naomi Osaka is focused on the Tokyo Olympics after retiring from the French Open and Wimbledon.
  • Osaka told the Insider that the pandemic has allowed it to slow down and reassess its priorities.
  • The tennis star spoke specifically about her mental health, training regimen and impact platform.
  • This article is part of our “The Golden Plan” series, which highlights Olympus and its values.

The Tokyo Summer Olympics are even more special for Naomi Osaka – not only her first 23-year-old Japanese games, but also her return home.

“I’ve never competed in an Olympic Games before, but I can say, as an athlete, I’m excited to participate in the most prestigious athletic event in the world,” Osaka said. “Like most competitors, I’ve been waiting for this opportunity all my life, and the fact that it’s being held in my native Japan, makes me feel like I can’t stop smiling on purpose. “

While Osaka is full of excitement for this year’s games, it also feels immense pressure to exhibit.

“You have to mentally prepare for these large-scale moments, and there is a lot of pressure associated with the Olympics because your country is waiting for you,” Osaka said.

Osaka focused on his mental well-being during the pandemic

Osaka has talked about recently on his mental health and how the scrutiny that comes with being in the spotlight as an elite athlete affects him.

While competing at the French Open in May and June, Osaka said she did not want to do post-match interviews because they sparked her anxiety. He added that he has struggled with depression since 2018.

Sometimes I get impatient and I have to remember to slow down and enjoy every moment.

Osaka was fined $ 15,000 for skipping a press conference. Eventually, he resigned from the tournament, but the decision sparked a debate over how government sports organizations treat athletes from a mental health perspective.

Osaka, that too he retired from Wimbledon in June, told the Insider that the pandemic allowed him to slow down and focus more on his emotional and mental well-being.

“Sometimes I get impatient and I have to remember to slow down and enjoy every moment,” she said. “This helped me on the court to calm my nerves and relieve some of the pressures that come with the stage.”

Osaka said the focus on gratitude and remembrance is that success is not built overnight to help keep you humble for the highs and lows.

Osaka loved having more time to stop training

Three black and white images next to Naomi Osaka

To help maintain her physical health, Osaka uses Hyperice compression massage equipment.

Courtesy of Hyperice

Like all athletes, Osaka’s training regime will change a lot during the pandemic, and once the official postponement of the Olympics is officially announced, it has proven to be positive.

“It was tough at first, but I appreciate that it would have touched some athletes stronger,” he said. “In tennis, while the Olympics is the peak, in my opinion, we are lucky to have some other big events during the year. While it was disappointing, I put it into perspective and I realized it was a much harder year. for so many people. ”

Osaka has shaken his mind and decided to enjoy downtime and break from an endless journey between tournaments.

Osaka changes its training regime before each tournament

Usually, Osaka’s training is always focused on the next major tournament, and its schedule varies accordingly.

“I also have to change surfaces from hard courts to clay to grass, so all of that is a factor in my movement and in court practice as well,” he said.

Osaka takes care of her body wherever she is in the world and travels with Hyperice compression equipment to help her legs recover between games. He also sees his physiotherapist regularly.

Nutrition is an important part of Osaka’s training and recovery. It doesn’t count macros or calories, but listens to its body instead.

Osaka generally has a great breakfast to feed their morning workout, a substantial lunch and a lighter dinner.

“My favorite thing to eat is probably sushi or a sweetgreen salad and green tea,” she said.

Osaka wants to use its platform for positive social change

Naomi Osaka wears a mask with the name of Ahmaud Arbery at the 2020 US Open

Osaka uses its platform to denounce social injustice and promote positive change.

Al Bello / Getty Images

Over the last few years, Osaka has focused his passion for activism on his athletics.

At the 2020 U.S. Open, during most Black Lives Matters rallies, Osaka used its public platform to highlight racial injustice.

Throughout the tournament, he wore seven face masks, each bearing the name of a black person who had been killed by police violence or racial profiling, such as Insider’s Darcy Schild. reported.

“There was a lot going on in the world, and there were problems that were bigger than all of us, and I needed to say something, even if it wasn’t through words,” Osaka said. “I didn’t feel that with everything I was seeing in the world around me I could just present myself and play as if nothing had happened, as if life hadn’t been unfairly taken.”

Osaka hoped the move could spark further talks on systemic oppression.

“It was the least I could do,” he said.

Osaka is on a mission to help younger women

Naomi Osaka serves during a match at the Australian Open 2020

Hoping to inspire the next generation, Osaka is investing in initiatives that support and encourage young athletes.

Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

Despite being ranked the No. 1 tennis player in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association, Osaka said its proudest moments are when it has inspired or helped the younger generations.

“There have been so many moments where I look back and think about how they happened, and I’m very grateful. But for everything – even for the victories – what I find most gratifying are the moments when I can go through what I’ve learned. and passed on what inspired me to young athletes and young women, ”Osaka said.

Honestly it would mean the world for me to bring home a gold in Japan.

Osaka works with Nike; has his initiative, the Academy Play With Naomi Osaka; and has invested in the North Carolina Courage women’s soccer team – all with the goal of encouraging more girls to enter the sport.

Osaka also sees winning gold at the Olympics as an opportunity to motivate young people.

“It would honestly mean the world for me to bring home gold in Japan,” he said. “I think it would take some time to sink completely, but to be able to earn gold on the ground in my country, knowing that the younger generation is looking forward – it makes me emotional to know that I have the opportunity to make a generation. whole inspired and a whole proud country ”.

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