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Title of "number-one college"
fencing player dedicated to late mentor

Noriko Hiraishi

In October 2011, Noriko Hiraishi won the Inter-college Fencing Championship and became the number one university student player. At the moment of victory, she was happy, embracing her teammates, but over time, she started to feel loneliness because Mr. Hiromi Kawana, her coach, died in September 2011. "It was Mr. Kawana who asked me to come to WASEDA. If I hadn't met the coach, I might not be here now." Mr. Kawana often said, "For Noriko to become really good, she must take one more step forward." "Pay back can be made in sports by achieving results. But I was not on time," says Noriko, full of tears.

Sharing sheer feeling of joy with a teammate after her victory

Noriko usually easily gets excited and is frank. But she is not the type to easily cry. Asked about what she felt when she started fencing, she promptly answers, "I became possessed by the sport because I felt really good when I won! As I hate to lose, it was always fun to win when I started fencing." She belonged to a club team where she lived since 2nd year of elementary school until junior high school, and trained intensely at high school.

As a senior club team member she entered WASEDA, which she had longed for since she was young. She says the atmosphere of the WASEDA Fencing Team she came across at championships also attracted her. "I saw that they voluntarily engaged in activities. So there was no sense of 'being forced.' As I am the type of person who wants to do what I can fully and while having fun, now I can really enjoy fencing." Were there any hard times or slumps? "When I was a first year student, I lost an important match and was not selected as a representative of Japan. That was tough. I was depressed for about two months, but thinking, 'If I get depressed about this, I will be a real loser,' and got over it. At that time, I didn't realize it, but I was arrogant to think, 'It is a matter of course that I will represent Japan.' So, looking back, it was a good experience." After that experience, her fencing gradually began to improve.

"W" peace sign with a big smile

At the Inter-college Championship in October, to cherish the memory of the late Mr. Kawana, she wore a mourning band. Strangely, she had confidence that she would win. However, she had close contests in the qualification round, and lost two matches. "I felt I was strong against pressure, but my feet didn't move. A junior player playing next to me said, 'If you fence like in training, you'll be OK.' I more or less improved." She made it to the qualification round with 3 wins and 2 losses. The performance was poor. "As I could easily have lost those games, I was able to put my doubts behind me, feeling like I was a loser." She got a little more pep in the final tournament, thinking, "I have nothing to lose." She steadily won matches, and with that inertia, won the final.

In the aftermath of her victory, she cried in her heart again and again, "Mr. Kawana! I have taken a step forward! I won, representing WASEDA!" Asked about her next target after the long-awaited victory, she triumphantly answers, "My next goal is victory in group matches. One of the reasons I won the Inter-college Championship was the support of all my teammates. As I become a 4th year student this year, I want to lead the team. Achieving things, I want to make people feel that the WASEDA Fencing Team is strong and a cool club, as my seniors did." It looks like her spirit will never die.

At the Inter-college Championship when a 2nd year student. Mr. Kawana is the fourth person from right in the first row.

Deeply moved with the first Inter-college Championship gold medal


Noriko Hiraishi

Born in Ehime Prefecture. Graduated from Mishima High School. 4th year, School of Education. She started fencing in second year of elementary school. Her hobby is shopping and says she often goes out to check clothes. Her motto is "Do the best but also have fun." She also says, "When I am with my friends, I make a lot of noise. But I also love my time alone, doing nothing!"