• Olympics & Paralympics

Sena Tomita comes back from injury to win bronze in halfpipe

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Sena Tomita performs in the women’s halfpipe final on Thursday.

BEIJING — Sena Tomita shook off her fears of injury to win the bronze medal in the women’s halfpipe final on Thursday. It was the first time in history for a Japanese woman to win a medal in this event.

“I’m happy and surprised at the same time. I feel like I’m dreaming,” Tomita said.

Winners in the event are decided by ranking each snowboarder’s single best score from among three rounds.

Tomita earned the second-best score in the first round, at 86.00 points, with a high-level horizontal triple rotation frontside 1080. In the second round, she further perfected the same routine and was again in second place, improving her score to 88.25, which would be her best.

“It was great that I was able to do the move I wanted to do in the first round, and I was able to be aggressive in the second and third rounds,” she said.

After the Pyeongchang Games, where she finished eighth, she suffered injuries. In December 2019, she fell and hit her head during a World Cup practice at the same venue as the current Olympics, and was diagnosed with a brain contusion that required absolute rest for a month. In the spring of the following year, she began to work out, but she dislocated her shoulder, and was not able to return to the World Cup until January 2021.

This season, she has been in good form, finishing on the podium in two consecutive World Cups and winning the X Games for the first time in January.

However, she said she was scared enough to shed tears during the practice before the Olympics, and that the thought of a fall crossed her mind during the final.

Even so, she showed off the skills she had refined for the Olympics in the final. She was able to compete with her rivals from around the world.

“I had the support of many people to participate in the Olympics. I want to express my gratitude to them all,” she said, and this helped her overcome her fears and win the bronze medal.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Sena Tomita smiles with the bronze medal

At the medals ceremony, she climbed up on the podium and smiled and waved, with tears in her eyes.

Tomita’s younger sister Ruki Tomita was fifth, and 17-year-old Mitsuki Ono was ninth.