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Taka Takes on Tokyo

3rd August 2021

As Japanese swim star, Taka Suzuki, prepares for his fifth Paralympic Games in Tokyo this year, the Northumbria student looks back on his time at the University and the relationship he has cemented with his coach.

With his sights firmly set on securing another medal at this year’s Games, the elite Para swimmer attributes much of his success to his time spent in Newcastle, particularly training and working alongside Northumbria’s Head of Aquatics, Louise Graham.

Louise has developed a close working relationship with Taka, who first arrived at Northumbria to study for a degree in Sport Management, but has since gone on to complete a Masters, and is now embarking on a PhD.

“Since he has been here at Northumbria he has won five world championships medals,” she said. “We watched him swim at those events and that was very special. He is positive, he listens, he is easy to coach as he is willing to put in the work.

“He came here just with the intention of learning English so the whole package of achievement both academically and within his sport has been really impressive.

“He is a great student to have around and represents what it is really like to have got the most out of a university sporting experience here at Northumbria.”

Taka and Louise’s relationship has gone from strength to strength during his time at the University, and she continues to push the swim star to fulfil his potential. Louise and Taka have an enviable dynamic, with communication between the two being vital.

Taka said: “I first met her (Louise) seven or eight years ago and in my first year, I couldn't really speak English, so it was hard to communicate with her, but she would write the sessions on the whiteboard so I could understand. She coaches logically so it's important for me to understand and trust what she does.”

Not only has Taka worked closely with his coach Louise throughout his time at Northumbria, but he has also formed a closeness and affinity with the University, in particular Northumbria Sport and the facilities available to him.

The convenience of the sports facilities is an aspect of the University he really values.

“Everything is in the same building at Sport Central so I can train at the pool, at the gym and I have my massages in the same building, so it is very good for me,” said Taka. “When I was in Japan all of the facilities were in different places, so it wasn’t easy to get to all of them.”

Taka highlights that the opportunities the University environment provides to balance both his study and training have been one of the main reasons he has stayed in the UK. Progressing through from undergraduate to postgraduate study has impacted positively on Taka’s professional career aspirations, while allowing him to continue to develop within the pool.

When looking ahead to what the future holds, Taka knows he is keen to remain involved in Para sports, beyond his competitive career.

“I would like to work for the Paralympic Sports Organisation or Paralympic Swimming,” he said. “It’s my aim to find a job in that area and Northumbria has helped me on the road to fulfilling those ambitions.”









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