In 2020, during COVID-19, Soma and his family made the big decision to move to Japan. The move was an adjustment for Soma, who had to adjust to both living and training in a different country. Everything was different.
When Soma arrived in Japan, she started training with the gymnastics club. Asahi’s lifean organization that has produced many successful competitive and Olympic gymnasts. For the first time, she felt a sense of independence in her practices. She made her own decisions about her training, something she was not used to at American facilities.
“The hours of practice are much shorter. And it’s much freer,” Soma said. “It’s a lot more about what you think you have to do instead of a coach telling you what to do. It’s mostly up to you to decide.
In the United States, coaching is generally much more rigid and inflexible. Gymnasts generally do not make their own decisions about their training and are usually given tasks that they must complete by their coaches. For Soma, who had grown up with this style of training, it was difficult to adapt to Japan’s looser style.
“All my life I’ve been used to people telling me, ‘Do these 10 routines’ or something like that. But when it came to me, it was a bit difficult at first, because I didn’t I was just not used to nobody telling me what to do,” Soma said.
Even though she was only in Japan for a year, Soma quickly established herself as one of their top competitors. She successfully participated in several major competitions, captivating the gymnastics community.
In December 2020, she added another gem to her incredible record. Soma placed third in the all-around for the 2020 All-Japan Championships, with the first and second places being occupied by Japanese Olympic athletes. This competition led to her inclusion in the Japan national team and helped put her on the path to the Olympics.
Despite Soma’s successes, his injury cut short his season, making his future plans for the elite competition uncertain. For now, she is focused on recovery but hopes to resume the pursuit of her Olympic dream..
“At the end of the day, the Olympics would be my goal,” Soma said.
Although her Olympic goals are uncertain, Soma is committed to competing at the college level. Five different colleges offered Soma scholarships to compete with their teams. Soma is now committed to Stanford University and she will participate in their gymnastics program once she graduates from high school.
“It’s an amazing opportunity,” Soma said.
Soma’s career has had its ups and downs, but she has proven countless times that she truly is an elite competitor. Whether on the Olympic and international stage or at the college level, Soma has shown that she has what it takes to excel.