FISM: When did you decide to participate in the FISM World Championship of Magic?
Soma: At the end of 2008, about 8-9 months before FISM 2009 in Beijing.
FISM: What factors influenced your decision to participate to FISM WCM?
Soma: In 2007-2008 my international carrier started to take of, I have gotten more and more gala invitations, as well as started winning different competitions world wide. FISM WCM was always the end goal. Seeing how things were going for me and for my act I knew it was time. And even though I haven't even finished university back then, and didn't have too much money, I put my everything into registering as a competitor in FISM 2009. I postponed school, threw away an international scholarship, and bet everything on this final competition.
FISM: What were your biggest fears and insecurities leading up to the FISM WCM?
Soma: FISM is the competition of competitions. There is no other like it. I can't say I was worried about one specific thing. However it was a rather stressful experience. Mentally one of the hardest things I had to do in my life. Knowing that I dedicated 9 years of my life to 9 MINUTES is scary. And you only have one chance, even one slight mistake can ruin everything.
FISM: What aspects of your performance were you most confident about?
Soma: I was confident that I have a good act. However I wasn't sure how it will hold up against the others. I knew my time stopping newspaper tear as well as my cell-phone manipulation along with other new and fresh ideas were something the jury and audience will also like. But I also knew that An Ha lim, Yo Kato, Han Seol Hui, Julius Frack, and a bunch of other excellent magicians are in the competition.
FISM: How did the preliminary rounds of the FISM WCM go for you?
Soma: I have to say for me preliminary round was 100x more stressful than the finals. The way I approached FISM is that I'm only in competition with 1 person. Myself. All I have to do, all I can do really, is perform to the best of my abilities, and hope for the best. Therefore I decided not no watch ANY of the competition. Which was were hard, as I was at the very last day of the competition. But I knew that if I start watching other great magicians it will destroy my confidence.
FISM: Can you describe your experience during the final round of FISM WCM?
Soma: The final round for me was a lot eaiser experience. At that point I already new I had the world champion title in my category (general magic), and no one can take that away from me. So I figured, I'll give it my best in the finals and see what happens. If I win, great, but if I don't nothing to be sad about, I already have the category WCM title. In my mind it was like performing at a closing gala at a very big, very important convention.
FISM: What happened after you were declared the FISM WCM Grand Prix?
Soma: I honestly couldn't believe it. I was shocked. Earlier in my performance I made a small mistake in my act, which later turned out nobody in the audience nor the jury realised. But because of this I was 100% sure that I wasn't going to win. And on top of this HanSeol Hui, my Korean rival got a much bigger applause than me. So as I was standing backstage, I just wanted the ceremony to end so I can finally go home. And when Eric Eswin, the FISM president announced my name as the winner, I was so surprised I went out on the stage and forgot to accept the award to start with.
FISM: How did you handle and manage your success following the victory of the FISM Grand Prix?
Soma: Winning the Grand Prix is something you can't really prepare for. It is a blessing you can't ask for only receive. Having my name mentioned together with a list of magicians such as Fred Kaps, Lance Burton or Norbert Ferré was something I never dreamed about. An honor that is difficult to put into words. The success that follows a Grand Prix win was amazing. Invitation to TV shows, gala shows, conventions, private events from all around the world started pouring in. The world opened up, and I realised my life changed for ever. I think I managed the success of FISM fairly well, I always tried to remind myself that a success in your profession doesn't define what type of person you are. But at the end of the day what really matters is just that. Remain humane and kind to the people around you. Of course it is not up to me to judge my character. I tried to do my best, and just hope stayed the same friendly person I was before.
FISM: Do you want to add any feelings or anecdotes about your trip for winning the FISM World Championship of Magic?
Soma: The preparation for FISM was a long one. One that defines me both as a person and as a magician even today. I practiced my fingers until they were bloody several times with my coins. I took my full act on holidays with myself and practiced while my friends were at the beach. However my biggest obstacle was I couldn't really believe I could become a World Champion prior to FISM. And I also knew that if I can't vision it, I will never be one. So in the 6 months preparing for FISM, as I was doing a lot of swimming back than, every time I was in the pool swimming my laps, I kept repeating to my self as a mantra: "I'am the new world champion of magic! I'am the new world champion of magic!" I was trying to condition myself to be able to believe that such a great thing can in fact happen to me. I honestly believe we need strong thoughts to manifest reality in our life. And for me the stakes were way to high. Repeating this sentence as a mantra several times a week in the pool while I was swimming helped me prepare for the challenges that were to come.
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