University of Oklahoma men's gymnastics coach Mark Williams continued to bolster the international success of OU's program by naming former Japanese Olympian Norimasa Iwai (pronounced "Nor-ee-mah-sa Ee-why") an assistant coach in September 2011.
Iwai competed as both an individual and as the captain of the Japanese National Team in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games.
"We're very excited to have Coach Iwai as the latest addition to our staff," said Williams. "His experience as a previous captain of the Japanese Olympic team gives him tremendous credibility and credentials coming into our program."
Iwai captained the Japanese National Team to a fourth place team finish in Sydney, Australia, at the 2000 Olympics while finishing seventh individually on the still rings. A year later, he competed for Japan at the 2001 World Championship and took home gold on the rings at the 2001 East Asia Games.
With the addition of Iwai to the Sooner staff, OU now has two former Olympians as assistant coaches. Guard Young, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist for Team USA, joined the coaching staff in June.
Williams believes Iwai's experience at the sport's pinnacle events will provide a strong asset to his coaching staff.
"Japanese gymnastics is very well respected throughout the world," said Williams. "We expect him to bring that experience into our program, both collegiately and for our student-athletes with aspirations to compete internationally in Team USA events and even the Olympic Games."
Along with his numerous accolades as a competitor, Iwai has built up experience of coaching gymnasts at the Gymnastics Network and Swan Gymnastics Club in Japan and recently at the Houston Gymnastics Academy.
As a personal coach, Iwai guided United States gymnast Raj Bhavsar, who claimed a bronze medal in team competition at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Iwai has also been a personal coach for gymnasts in the 2007 Swiss Cup and 2010 Toyota Cup.
"I'm very excited about coaching at Oklahoma," said Iwai. "OU has a strong history of posting good results at the NCAA Championships. My job is to help our gymnasts continue to post those good results and to train future champions."
A native of Gunma, Japan, Iwai graduated with a degree in physical education from Nihon University in Tokyo. He and his wife, Akko, have two children: Mumo (7) and Jun (5).