Ai Ueda: Motivated by refusing to limit ambition

The Japanese triathlete demonstrates her use of mindfulness, visualisation and motivation, in the new Bridgestone Olympic Channel interactive experience.

By Andrew Binner ·

As well as being a five-time Asian triathlon champion and an Asian Games gold medallist, Ai Ueda knows a thing or two about sports psychology.

Known as the 'Iron Girl' in Japan, she has competed in 200 International Triathlon Union (ITU) competitions, achieving 49 podium finishes and 29 wins.

As part of new Bridgestone Olympic Channel experience Olympic State of Mind, Ueda reveals the tools she uses to perform at her peak.

The goal of Olympic State of Mind is to help people to be the best version of themselves, through interviews with elite sports stars, informative articles, quizzes and interactive games.

Ai Ueda: Queen of consistency

Ueda's consistency over such a long career is what truly marks her out from her rivals.

The 36-year-old first competed in elite triathlon in 2003 and remains at the top of her game as she targets a fourth Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020.

She told Olympic Channel, "I have three main things that act as my sources of motivation. The first one is to have a dream to achieve.

"The second is a smile. Always staying positive and having a smile on your face. The third is not having limits.

"I think if you put limits on yourself you stop yourself from growing to your full potential. For me, having ambition is massively important for personal growth." - Ai Ueda to Olympic Channel.

This season, Ueda defended her title on home soil at the Miyazaki ITU Triathlon World Cup, while also triumphing in Lima, Cape Town and Nur-Sultan.

Triathlete Ai Ueda has represented Japan at three Olympic Games

Using visualisation to remain positive

Another common feature of Ueda's races is her constant ear-to-ear smile.

In a sport where athletes push themselves to their cardiovascular limits and are subject to external factors like the weather, imagining joy helps Ueda find her all-important race rhythm.

She said, "Visualise the joy you'll feel when you make it happen. Then keep a smile on your face in the good times and bad.

"Use that smile to turn the people offering support around you into allies. It's great when you can create this flow together and the people who were with you at each step can share in your victory."

Bouncing back

However, it hasn't always been plain sailing for Ueda.

The Kyoto native went without an ITU World Cup win from 2016 to 2018, but came roaring back to the top of the podium through her use of motivation and visualisation.

"The Olympic State of Mind is what transforms you into the best version of yourself. I completely support this." - Ai Ueda to Olympic Channel

"To everyone out there chasing their dreams, I'd like to let you know what I think is important.

"It's probably going to be difficult to achieve your goals if you don't have personal faith in your own potential."

Ai Ueda in action during the Rio 2016 Olympic triathlon

How to tap into Ai Ueda's Olympic state of mind

The interactive experience is now live on Olympic Channel.

Keep an eye out for the video clips, articles, quizzes and games for you to watch, read, and play, plus a special episode of the Olympic Channel Podcast.