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This week marks 25 years since the debut of Japanese Repsol Honda Team rider Takahisa Fujinami in Trial World Championship

First international Trial race of Takahisa Fujinami took place in Spain, in Navacerrada, in the Madrid region on April 14, 1996. In a freezing trial, that had seen snow at dawn, 16-year-old Fujinami lined up amid 37 other participants. The newcomer went on to finish after two days competition, in nineteenth position. This Trial Marc Colomer would claim victory, going on to win his only world title for Montesa later same year.

-What memories do you have of your debut in the Trial World Championship?
-The truth is that I don’t remember many things, but I do remember that it was there, in my first trial, that people nicknamed me Fujigas.

-How did that come about?
-I came to a very difficult section that no rider had been able to overcome on the first lap. It was very steep, so I gave it a lot of gas. A lot! But it was little use as I also ended up with a fiasco, but the spectators started asking, ‘Who is that guy?’ ‘Fujinami’, I answered and they said: “What you are is Fuji-gas!” That’s where it comes from…

-It was your first trial among the elite riders…
-Yes, Jordi Tarrés, Tommi Ahvala, Bosis, Colley, Lampkin, Colomer… I had only seen them on video and there I was lining up among them. It was quite exciting for me and I even felt a bit of stage fright in front of so many professional riders.

-This year will be your 25th season in the Trial World Championship. It’s not often that you see such a long sporting career!
-Until now I believe I’m the only one to have done it, but I think many others will attempt to break the same record. Last year’s third place was a surprise for many, but not so much for me. I think I am even better this year both mentally and physically. Twenty-five in the end is just a number. I feel great and I’ve been feeling the same year after year.

-As you pointed out, last year you finished third in an extraordinary season finale. Do you consider it to be your best year – apart from the one in 2004?
-Three years ago I also achieved third place in the world championship where I think I had a very good season too, with a win and several podiums. Last year I was in the top five throughout and that was very important towards the final result.

-The TrialGP World Championship this year will have a modified start and Japan will no longer be the most important race in June.
-Yes, it is difficult for them to put the calendar together. For me, as I didn’t compete in the indoor championship, it will be a very long wait! The first three trials have been postponed and it will be a bit tough mentally. To think that in two months time the world championship will not have even started. It’s going to be hard.

-In spite of everything, we have seen a very active Fujigas as of late, training at home. Is this your way of preparing and battling against the Coronavirus Pandemic?
-It is what it is. Everyone has to be locked down at home. In the house I try to do as much exercise as I can: the exercise bike, some fitness, etc. I have a trainer who sends me exercises to do at home.

-What exercises do you do to stay fit?
-Mainly cardio work on the bike but also some TRX and weights for the chest and legs.

-Do you have a gym at home?
-It is not exactly a gym, but I’m fortunate to have some equipment at home. But it is very difficult to stay focused working alone. Mentally you have to be very strong to train so hard by yourself.

-Do you have time to prepare the bike?
-I have the training motorbike at home so I have amused myself fiddling around with it and making some technical adjustments and try to change the engine… but I haven’t really been able to do much.

-Taking care of diet is important for an athlete. Have your eating habits changed recently?
-Every day I check my weight on the scales. And the truth is that I have lost weight somewhat. This is normal, I think. So I don’t have to worry too much about food.

-Hopefully we will see you back in action soon. Any final message?
-Yes, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the health workers who are striving so hard these days to look after the sick. My respect to them and I would also like to offer my condolences to the families and friends of people who have lost loved ones. Thank you.