Q&A With Cal Senior Keiko Nakamura

Feb. 13, 2008

BERKELEY - California senior Keiko Nakamura is in the midst of her final season competing for the Golden Bears. Nakamura and the Bears host No. 7 UCLA this Sunday at Haas Pavilion at 2 p.m. Nakamura, who specializes on the balance beam, sat down with CalBears.com to discuss being a team captain, her future and this weekend's meet.

CalBears.com: Does this meet mean anything extra for you personally since yourparents went to UCLA?
Nakamura: It is always fun to compete against UCLA, but I am going into this meetwith the same mindset I would with any other meet - to hit my routine. However, it does mean a lot to me that my mom will be in the stands cheering for Cal over her own alma mater.

CalBears.com: In addition to being from Southern California, was there a lot ofpressure from your parents to go to UCLA?
Nakamura: Although I was raised a Bruin, my parents encouraged me to choose auniversity that I felt would be the best fit academically, athletically and personally. My parents were very supportive of my decision to become a Cal Bear, and they wear their 'Berkeley Parent' shirts with pride.

CalBears.com: What reasons led you to not compete all-around and just focus onbeam?
Nakamura: Since my freshman year, and even before college, I have been battling several injuries. Early in my collegiate career, I sat down with the coaching staff and we made the decision to focus on beam in order to give me the best chance of making it through four successful years of collegiate gymnastics. My body has gone through too much to take the impact of the other events. I am very grateful that my favorite event happens to be the event that I can handle training.

CalBears.com: What's one of the most challenging aspects about being a gymnast thatmost people don't realize?
Nakamura: Most people don't realize how much time and energy we spend training outside of the gym. In addition to being in the gym working on our skills and routines, we lift weights, do cardio workouts, swim, run in stadiums and complete strength circuits to ensure that we can withstand the physical demands of our sport. We meet with a sports psychologist and a nutritionist on a regular basis, as well as spend numerous hours in thetraining room, treating injuries and staying healthy.

CalBears.com: How have you enjoyed being a senior captain this year?
Nakamura: Being a senior captain this year has been both challenging and rewarding. It is an honor to know that my teammates trust in my leadership ability enough to vote me as one of their captains for a second year. Learning how to interact between the coaches and the team has been a learning experience, but I feel that the skills I have gained as a captain will prove helpful throughout my lifetime.

CalBears.com: Why did you decide to be an integrative biology major?
Nakamura: I decided on integrative biology because I am fascinated by the intricacy and complexity of different biological systems. Integrative biology is unique because it combines different facets of biology into an interesting and challenging course of study. As an IB major, I have had the opportunity to take a wide range of courses from medical ethno-botany to sports medicine.

CalBears.com: What has been your most interesting class at Cal?
Nakamura: My most interesting class at Cal has been my Human Anatomy Lab. It wasfascinating to work with the cadavers and I learned so much more from the hands-on experience than I would have in a classroom setting.

CalBears.com: What are your plans for after graduation?
Nakamura: As of now, my plans for after graduation include a post-baccalaureate program to complete my remaining pre-med requirements and then medical school.

CalBears.com: How would you like to see this season end personally and for theteam?
Nakamura: My personal goals for the season are to finish in one piece and to enjoy my last couple months as a gymnast. For the team, we are focusing on being healthy and competing how we practice. I would love to see our team finish the season in high spirits with complete, healthy lineups.

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