Asian-American athletes to watch at the 2016 Rio Olympics

160715_nathan_adrian21750z_682883563_nocid_rtrmadp_3_swimming-u-s-olympic-team-trials-swimming_501aeb7c2ff3001012e53d922c769818.nbcnews-fp-1200-800

This August, Team USA will be headed to the 2016 Rio Olympics with over 500 athletes across 42 Olympic sport disciplines. Of these athletes, over 30, competing in a variety of sports including swimming, fencing, table tennis, and volleyball, identify as Asian American. Below are 10 Asian-American athletes to watch during the Rio Olympics. Keep their names in mind, as there’s a good chance that some of them will be leaving Rio with new medals.

Alexander Massialas

Born to a Greek father and a Taiwanese mother, San Francisco native Alexander Massialas is poised to win a medal at the Rio Olympics this year. Currently ranked the number one male foil fencer in the world, Massialas was also the youngest male member of the 2012 U.S. Olympics team.

He comes from an accomplished fencing family — his father Greg was a three-time Olympic fencer and his younger sister Sabrina was the first U.S. fencer to ever win a Youth Olympic Games gold medal. Massialas is currently a student at Stanford University and majors in mechanical engineering. He can speak Mandarin and attended the Chinese American International School as a child.

Gerek Meinhardt

Like Massialas, Gerek Meindhart is also a Taiwanese-American fencer. The two are good friends since Meinhardt’s mother Jane was primary school classmates with Massialas’ mom Vivian, and it was Vivian’s suggestion to have Meinhardt join the fencing club. While both of Meinhardt’s parents were architects and not fencers, Massialas helped coach Meinhardt for competition.

In the past, Meinhardt also played basketball. His sister Katie played the sport at Boston University (BU) and still holds the BU record for most points in a game. Meinhardt recently received an MBA from Notre Dame and works as a Deloitte consultant when he isn’t competing in the games.

Lee Kiefer

Filipino-American fencer Lee Kiefer is currently ranked third in women’s foil and was the first athlete to ever win seven consecutive individual titles at the Pan American Championships. Fencing also runs in the family — she is the daughter of a former Duke University fencing captain and has a sister Alex and brother Axel who also compete.

Kiefer is currently a senior pre-med major at the University of Notre Dame. Her father Steve is a neurosurgeon, her mother Teresa is a psychiatrist, and her older sister Alex is a Harvard pre-med student.

Nathan Adrian

This three-time Olympic swimming gold medalist will be back in 2016. In this year’s Olympics, Adrian will compete in the 50 meter and 100 meter freestyle events. Adrian is in a good position to defend his Olympic gold medal in the 100m, as he finished first place in that event at the U.S. Olympic Trials. This Bremerton-born athlete is half-Chinese and was honored at the Robert Chinn Foundation‘s Asian Hall of Fame. Adrian majored in public health and graduated with honors from UC Berkeley in Spring 2012. After he retires from competitive swimming, Adrian has expressed interest in becoming a doctor.

Paige McPherson

Paige McPherson is an Olympic taekwondo competitor of Filipino and African-American descent. McPherson, who won a bronze medal in the women’s 67 kilogram taekwondo event in 2012, will return to compete in Rio. While McPherson grew up in Sturgis, South Dakota, she comes from what she likes to call a “rainbow family.” McPherson is one of five adopted kids in her family — she has a Korean brother, a St. Lucian little sister, and two Native American siblings. McPherson attended Miami-Dade College and continues to train primarily in Miami. After the 2015 Pan Am Games Team Trials, McPherson got the chance to meet her biological brother. Once the Rio Olympic Games come to a close, McPherson hopes to meet more members of her biological family.

Lia Neal

Olympic swimmer Lia Neal identifies as both African American and Chinese American. Neal celebrates all Chinese holidays, and went to a Chinese pre-school program — which is why she speaks Cantonese and has studied Mandarin for years. This Brooklyn native won a bronze medal at the London Games in the 4 by 100-meter freestyle relay with Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, and Allison Schmitt. This year, Neal came in fourth during the 4 by 100 freestyle Olympic trials, allowing her the fourth spot in the 4 by 100-meter freestyle relay team. Neal is currently a Stanford University student, and her classmate Simone Manuel also made it onto the Olympic swimming team. This makes it the first time two Black female swimmers will swim simultaneously on the U.S. Olympic team.

Jay Litherland

Jay Litherland is an Olympic swimmer majoring in business at the University of Georgia. He’s also a triplet – and has triple citizenship in the U.S., Japan, and New Zealand. He can speak Japanese and started swimming at the age of 8. At this year’s U.S. Olympic Team Trials, he managed to finish second in the 400 meter individual medley. Litherland won the second of two U.S. Olympic spots in the event, eking out the defending Olympic gold medalist, Ryan Lochte, by approximately a second. This will be the first time he will be attending the Olympics. He previously competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2012.

Micah Christenson, Kawika Shoji, and Erik Shoji

These three athletes will be representing the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team at the Rio Olympics. Micah Christenson comes from a tall family – his father played basketball at the University of Hawaii-Hilo and his mother won three national volleyball championships at the same university. Anderson currently plays for Italian club team Cucine Lube Civitanova but won a gold medal with the USA team in the 2015 Men’s World Cup. Christenson graduated from the University of Southern California and will be a setter for the men’s national team. His full name is Micah Makanamaikalani Christenson, and his middle name means “gift from heaven.”

Erik and Kawika Shoji are brothers — and both will be at the Rio Olympics in the U.S. Men’s volleyball team. The Honolulu-born pair both attended Stanford University and played on the volleyball team when they were there. Their father Dave has coached women’s volleyball at the University of Hawaii for more than 40 years, while their mother Mary played basketball at the same university. Kawika is currently a member of Turkish club Arkas Izmir, while Erik Shoji plays for German club Berlin Recycling Volleys.

20 celebrities you didn’t know were Asian

admin-ajax (1)

Audrey Magazine (Ethel Navales):

Not all Asians look the same.  I repeat, not all Asians look the same. It seems no matter how many times we say it, people simply assume that all Asians share the same physical features. Some believe we all have the same body structure and others even think we all have the same kind of hair. Of course, we know this is absurd. We know that there are plenty of ethnicities which categorize under the umbrella term “Asian” and we know there are plenty of Asians who are of mixed race. So why do people think all Asians look the alike? Well it may have a thing or two to do with media’s portrayal of Asians. If audiences have only been exposed to a very particular type of Asian, how can they know we’re all different? This lack of exposure may be the very reason many celebs who are bi-racial or multiracial are often overlooked in the Asian community. Even if they don’t necessarily “look it,” all of the following celebrities are Asian.

Check out this list of 20 Asian celebs you probably didn’t know were Asian.

1)  Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical is part Chinese and part Filipino.

vanessahudgens


2)  Tiger Woods is part Thai.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 4.03.17 PM


3)  Chad Michael Murray of One Tree Hill  is a quarter Japanese.

chadmichaelmurray


4)  Dean Cain, superman of the TV series, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman is a quarter Japanese.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 4.08.34 PM


5)  Nicole Scherzinger of PussyCat Dolls is half Filipino.

nicole


6)  Keanu Reeves of The Matrix is a quarter Hawaiian and a quarter Chinese.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 4.10.29 PM


7)  Darren Criss of the TV series Glee is half Filipino.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 4.14.51 PM


8)   Ne-Yo is a quarter Chinese.

neyo


9)  Tyga, the rapper, is half Vietnamese.

tyga1


10)  Maggie Q is half Vietnamese.

maggieq


11) Enrique Iglesias is half Filipino.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 4.24.19 PM


12)   Piper Curda of the Disney Channel show I Didn’t Do It is part Korean.

pipercurda


13)   Mark-Paul Gosselaar, aka Zack Morris of the 90’s hit TV show Saved By The Bell, is a quarter Indonesian.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 4.27.06 PM


14) Kristin Kreuk of the TV series SmallVille and Beauty and the Beast is half Chinese.

kristenkreuk


15) Kelsey Asbille Chow of the MTV series Teen Wolf  and The Amazing Spiderman is part Chinese.

kinopoisk.ru


16)   Host of the TV show Lip Sync Battle and model, Chrissy Teigen is half Thai.

chrissyteigen


17)  Rob Schneider of Grown Ups and The Hot Chick is a quarter Filipino.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 4.32.09 PM


18) Chanel Iman, the Victoria Secret Angel and model is half Korean.

chanel

19) Model Karrueche Tran is half Vietnamese.

karrueche


20) Bérénice Marlohe from the famous Bond series, SkyFall is part Cambodian and Chinese.

Berenice-Marlohe-2


– See more at: http://audreymagazine.com/20-celebs-you-didnt-know-were-asian/#sthash.71uqqXCc.dpuf

15-Minutes With Manny Pacquiao

Next Shark (by Benny Luo; Photography by Melly Lee)

As expected from a celebrity of Pacquiao’s caliber, his schedule was constantly filling up and changing. Our originally planned date to shoot was changed at the last minute to the day before. Not only that, but on the day of the interview, our time with him was cut from 30 minutes down to 20 minutes and then finally to less than 15 minutes — meaning we literally had less than 15 minutes to do a video and photoshoot with him. But none of us even flinched — we’ve had days where interviewees would cancel on us last minute when we were already literally in front of their door, because “something came up.” Here was a man who was getting interview requests from mainstream outlets left and right, and yet he still made time for small fry like us. That was the moment I got my first peek into Manny Pacquiao’s character.

From the outside, it seemed as if the logistics would be a production nightmare. Apart from the scheduling issues, however, everything fell into place that day. As I was arriving to the shoot location, I got a call from the person handling publicity for Pacquiao while in Los Angeles.

“He’s on the way, but he’ll be 20 minutes late.”

To make sure things were easy for him, we saved one spot for his car when he arrived. Little did we know he was actually rolling up in a giant Escalade — along with an entourage that took up two other Escalades. Suddenly, we had to figure out how to fit three large SUVs into a small garage.

We managed to fit the first car into the garage with no problems. Manny’s car arrived second. Once Manny and his crew got out of the car, I walked up to shake his hand and to introduce myself. He then gave me a monotone, “Nice to meet you.” I could tell he was drained.

Once inside, a near-empty studio with just a few people was suddenly packed with almost two dozen people. His entourage included people taking pictures of him on their iPhones and a cameraman that shot video while following him around.

His schedule was so tight that his publicist was already screaming that they had to leave the moment he set foot in the door. I usually like to meet everyone and try to warm up with the person I’m interviewing, but I knew that was nearly impossible. I simply looked at Manny, pointed to the chair and told him to sit and get ready.

We spent a total of less than 15 minutes doing both the interview and photoshoot. Manny and his crew quickly left afterward for their next meeting. I could hear the tires screech as they left. And suddenly, our studio was empty again just liked it had been 15 minutes before he arrived.

MellyLee-MannyPacquiao-15

Manny was in Los Angeles to promote his new documentary film, eponymously titled “Manny.” It’s directed by first-time filmmaker Ryan Moore, a USC film student who got the opportunity to make the film after a casual meeting with Manny in 2008 at a charity event. He told Life + Times:

“I think he knew that I was genuinely passionate about his story. I lived in the Philippines for five years and knowing what my family’s struggle was like, my imagination started running wild as to what Manny’s childhood was like being amongst the poorest of the poor. One thing I always knew was that I wanted this to be a visceral experience and I didn’t want this to be your typical documentary. I felt that Manny’s story was ‘Rocky’ meets ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ I wanted to make a movie that was more than boxing.”

The film is special not just because it shows what a badass Manny Pacquiao is in the ring, but because it shows how he’s a badass outside of it too. “Manny” highlights Pacquiao’s life growing up in a family that struggled to put food on the table everyday. At the age of 16, weighing in at only 98 pounds, Manny started his boxing career in order to earn money to take care of his family.

“Back then, we experienced [not] eating food, because we didn’t have money to buy food, so we just drinking water. That’s our experience and we survived. It’s not easy … even though I’m a successful person right now, I don’t want to change my attitude — always humble. Humility is always there because of my experience passing through this difficult life.”

The film features interviews with Manny himself, his wife Jinkee Pacquiao, coach Freddie Roach, Mark Wahlberg, Jeremy Piven, Alex Ariza, Jimmy Kimmel, Larry Merchant and Bert Sugar. It is also narrated by Liam Neeson, who was chosen because he was a boxer himself up until he was 19.

Today, Manny is far from just a world champion boxer. In the Philippines, his home country, he is also a politician, a singer with a hit single and an entrepreneur. He’s so influential that it is said the crime rate drops down to zero percent during his fights. Why? Because literally everyone rushes to their TV screens to cheer for their country’s hero.

On what it’s like being poor and now being rich, Pacquiao’s response was relatively simple.

“The changes in my life is of course, I have plenty of food and I can buy whatever I want. And the Lord provides me all the things that we want to do. The way I treat people I’m still the same.”

In addition to his riches and success as an adult, Pacquiao has had dark times as well. He’s admitted that he was a womanizer, degenerate gambler and drinker in the past. However, he left all of it behind after becoming a devout Christian. To this day, Pacquiao admits his biggest fear has to do with his faith:

“My fear is [losing] my relationship to the Lord, to my God. That’s the biggest fear. That’s why I’m always building up my relationship with the Lord.”

Whatever his venture, Pacquiao reveals what his biggest passion is.

“… I think I already started doing it: Helping people … My goal in life is to help them, where I came from, and the people who are in need also. Because I know what they’re feeling and I know they really need help.”

MellyLee-MannyPacquiao-21

With everyone wondering whether the epic fight between him and Mayweather is going to happen, Pacquiao unfortunately has no new news.

“My promoter and I have agreed already to whatever terms and conditions he wants. We’re just waiting for the signed contract. If he signed the contract [the] fight will be on and we’ll announce it. I believe the fans deserve that fight.”

When asked what he wants his audience and fans to take from watching his new documentary movie, he said:

“This is a very good movie. It will inspire people, especially the fans of boxing. They will know more about me, about Manny, not only in boxing, but my life, before I become like this. I’m pretty sure they’ll be inspired after they watch this movie. The [release] date will be January 23 in select theaters.”

Manny_Gravitas_Poster

Best Asian American athletes in 2014


Northwest Asian Weekly (By Jason Cruz)

It was another stellar year for API sports.

It started off with Doug Baldwin and the Seattle Seahawks bringing home the team’s first ever Super Bowl and a parade that seemingly the whole city of Seattle came to see.

The Winter Olympics were a bit of a disappointment for Asian Americans. Mirai Nagusa was denied making the U.S. women’s figure skating team despite making the top three.

J.R. Celski earned a Silver medal in the men’s Short Track 5000-meter relay but failed to medal in any of the three individual events he competed in.

Julie Chu, the first Asian American woman to play for the U.S. women’s ice hockey team ended her career with a Silver medal for the U.S. team. However, her quest for Gold was thwarted just three minutes before the end of the Gold Medal Game against Canada. With the U.S. up 2-0, Canada made a furious comeback and scored two goals in three minutes to send the game into overtime where Team Canada scored another goal for the Gold. Chu played in an unprecedented four Olympics and was the U.S. Olympic team’s Flag Bearer for the closing ceremonies.

In April, Manny Pacquiao returned to the ring and avenged a controversial loss to Tim Bradley by winning a convincing unanimous decision.

The World Cup was held in Brazil in June and the two Asian nations competing, South Korea and Japan, did not fare well. Both were eliminated in the first round of the tournament.

Also in June, Michelle Wie won her first major golf championship with a win at the U.S. Women’s Open. At the same tournament, 11-year-old Lucy Li became the youngest qualifier in the U.S. Women’s Open.

University of Washington men’s golf team member Cheng-Tsung Pan played in the British Open in July. The UW junior earned the spot by tying for second at a qualifying event in Thailand. This fall, Pan decided to turn pro.

The U.S. Tennis Open featured great runs by 24-year-old Japanese star Kei Nishikori and China’s Peng Shuai.

Nishikori, who was coached by Chinese American Michael Chang, made it all the way to the men’s final before losing to Milos Raonic.

Shuai made a surprising run to the semifinals where she had to retire (forfeit) due to continued leg cramps.

Absent from the women’s side of the tournament was Li Na who announced her retirement in September.

In October, Apolo Ohno finished the famed Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii.

November saw Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring as he destroyed Chris Algieri. Pacquiao’s next opponent…Floyd Mayweather?

In December, the University of Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the Heisman Trophy, college football’s biggest individual award.
Mariota becomes the first Asian Pacific Islander to win the trophy.

And without further ado, here are the top 10 API athletes of 2014:

10. Harley Kirsch

Kirsch, who is part Korean, was the quarterback for the Eastside Catholic High School team that defeated the vaunted Bellevue High School football team to win the Washington state class 3A football championship. Located in Sammamish, Washington, the school ended Bellevue’s 67 game winning streak. Kirsch is only a junior and will return next season to lead Eastside Catholic.

9. Amelia Andrilenas

The junior gymnast at Juanita High School qualified for the state meet and placed first, second, and fourth in all-around meets during the 2013-2014 season.

For the outsider, the most astonishing thing about the 4’11” gymnast is that she has only one hand. Andrilenas, who was adopted from China, took up gymnastics at an early age and has excelled since.

8. Jeremy Lin

Lin was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers this past offseason to complement Kobe Bryant. So far, Lin has not done much to help Kobe. He’s averaging just 10 points for the currently 9 win and 22 loss Lakers. He did score a season high 21 points in the Lakers’ first win. While he is far-removed from the days of New York and Linsanity, he still is a contributing member of the Lakers who hope to rebuild.

7. Tim Lincecum

It seems that every other year Lincecum and his San Francisco Giants seem to win a World Series. The Giants won baseball’s World Series this year making it three times in the past five years that the team has won the title. Lincecum, who is a Washington native and part Filipino, pitched his second-career no-hitter against the San Diego Padres in June. He also picked up his 100th career win this past September. Although Lincecum played sparingly in the World Series, he picks up his third ring.

6. Chloe Kim

At only 14, Kim was too young to compete in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics but the snowboarder did earn silver in the “superpipe” at this year’s Winter X Games. Look for the Korean American to make the next team in the 2018 Winter Olympics which are in her parents’ home country of South Korea.

5. Julie Chu

A pioneer in the field of women’s hockey as Chu was the first Asian American to be on the women’s team and the first to play in four Olympics. She also starred in a commercial with her mother shown during the Winter Olympics.

4. Mirai Nagusa

The 21-year-old Los Angeles native was denied a spot on the 2014 Winter Olympics women’s figure skating team despite winning the Bronze medal at the U.S. Championships. Usually, the top three are awarded spots on the Olympic team. However, the U.S. Figure Skating committee determined that Ashley Wagner, the fourth place finisher make the team based on Wagner’s stronger international record. Although it was reported that Nagusa would appeal the decision, she later decided not to pursue it.

3. Apolo Ohno

The Olympic medalist is keeping busy in retirement. Last year he ran the New York Marathon. This year, he has completed one of the most grueling events out there, the Kona Ironman Triathlon. Ohno finished in 9 hours, 52 minutes and 27 seconds. What will he do next?

2. Marcus Mariota

The Oregon Duck won the Heisman Trophy in December and leads his team into the first College Football Playoff. Mariota is certain to be a top pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

1. Doug Baldwin

It’s pretty easy to pick Baldwin as he was a key part of the Seahawks run to the Super Bowl last year and remains one of Russell Wilson’s most valuable receivers. Hopefully, we’ll see Baldwin (and the rest of the Seahawks) with another Super Bowl ring in 2015.