Interview with Japanese number 1 squash player Misaki Kobyashi
From GLEN WILSON in Montreal
How is it back in Japan 2 weeks on after the earthquake/tsunami?
It’s pretty devastating, it’s going to take at least a year probably longer to clean it up and then the re-building phase will begin.
Where were you when this all happened?
I was in Tokyo in a car with a few other squash players going to the courts. Buildings started shaking around us. It was pretty scary as it lasted for what seemed like a long time.
What did you do after the earthquake?
We carried onto the courts towards a highway first but it closed all of a sudden so there must have been some road damage so we went another way to get to the courts.
After hitting we all went our own way and when I arrived home I turned the TV on to see if anything had happened. That’s when we saw the Tsunami destroying Sendai which is about 350 kilometres from Tokyo.
That must have been hard to watch?
Yeh, it was really bad. I have a lot of friends in Sendai but I later found out that they were all ok.
The next day I was due to travel to Kuala Lumpur for a squash tournament but there was no transport operating out to the airport so I was unsure if I could get there. I later heard that there were some late night trains going so I managed to get on 1 that night so I could catch an early morning flight out the next day. That was a restless night as I had to sleep on the airport floor.
It must have been tough going to a squash tournament while all of this was happening back in Japan?
It was quite unsettling but I was only in KL for a few days before heading back to see family and friends.
When you went back to Tokyo after being in Kl for a few days what was the feeling like?
The country was in a state of shock, there were so many things to deal with and with the radiation pouring out of reactor 3 we started having a lot of other major problems that we are still obviously dealing with.
This is a hard time for the Japanese people and our hearts go out to all of them I am sure from everyone in squash but after all of this is over and the country starts getting back on its feet do you plan on helping out in any way?
Well actually I will run some charity auctions maybe in the summer with all proceeds going into a fund to help with the cause. I have some signed shirts from Nicol David that she gave me when I was in KL so that will be a part of it as well.
In Sendai there were some sports clubs and squash courts that were damaged so I also hope to go up there when it is safe and run some more auctions and to do what I can.
That’s great that you will find the time in your busy schedule to do something like that but before the charity work what’s coming up for you?
After the Texas Open I have some events in India and then the Asian Games before heading home. After that I will spend the summer training hard, possibly looking for a coach to take my game forward and to do what I can to raise money for the devastation that has left the Northern Districts is a state of turmoil.
Thank you to Misaki on taking the time to talk to us about the aftermath in Japan and we wish her all the best with her squash and with her charity work this summer.