Asian-American athletes to watch at the 2016 Rio Olympics

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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.

Jeremy Lin and Gareth Bale star in the Adidas Climachill “Uncontrol Yourself” campaign

As warmer weather inches towards us, adidas is set to cover all athletes with protective, breathable layers for warm weather. Incorporating direct insights from premier players like Gareth Bale and Jeremy Lin as well as its own Future Sport Science lab, adidas debuts the re-designed Climachill apparel line.

For shirts, the Climachill shirts are equipped with industry-leading 3D aluminum cooling spheres that provide a chilling sensation on contact to the warmest areas of the body. The line is also designed with SubZero flat yarn, which is woven with titanium to molds to the body’s form and transfer an increased amount of heat away from the body.

The campaign for Climachill launches with the above video, which finds everyday athletes channeling their inner superstars in heated situations. Check out the video above and head to adidas’ site to peruse the collection.

Link

Top 10 Asian American athletes in 2013

The year 2013 was another one for Asian American athletes. Last year was all about Linsanity, as Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere to be the toast of the NBA. This year, Lin was not as big, although a documentary about his life and road to stardom was released this year.

The year began with the confusing tale of former Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o. It was discovered that the linebacker, who was drafted by the San Diego Chargers, had a girlfriend he never met. And then it was discovered that the girlfriend did not exist. Te’o, who had a clean-cut image before this news broke, had to explain what happened and why he had a girlfriend he talked to but never actually saw in person. It was discovered that Te’o was a victim of online “catfishing,” which occurs when someone pretends to be someone they are not. It proved to be an embarrassing moment for Te’o and he spent the second half of 2013 staying out of the spotlight, which was probably a good thing.

Dennis Rodman made friends with North Korean dictator Kim Jung Un. Yes, this actually happened. The former Chicago Bull made a trip to North Korea and hit it off with the leader of one of the Axes of Evil. The North Korean dictator is a fan of the NBA and Rodman, which may only hurt diplomatic relations between the countries.

Locally, Hishashi Iwakuma emerged as a star for the fledgling Seattle Mariners and was a finalist for the Cy Young Award in the American League. The award is given to the best pitcher in baseball.

The effort to bring professional basketball to Seattle was once again thwarted. Indian American Vivek Ranadive bought the Sacramento Kings in order to keep them in Sacramento, stopping its move to Seattle.

High School swimmer Edward Kim is a dominant force in the pool for Eastlake High School. Kim has won multiple state titles and back-to-back Class 4A Swimmer of the Meet awards.

Tegan, 11, and Taylan, 16, Yuasa are nationally ranked Judo practitioners in their respective age groups. Both brothers have won local and national competitions in their respective divisions.  Stay tuned to these guys in the next couple years — we may see them in the Olympics.

Honorable Mentions

Although we do not have them on this list, there are many Asian athletes that had great years. First, it would be wrong not to mention all of the great golfers this year. China’s Guan Tianlang played at the Masters in Augusta, Ga., at the age of 14. He was the youngest ever to compete at the event and even played a practice round with Tiger Woods.

Inbee Park was a dominant figure in women’s golf this year. In fact, five of the top 10 golfers in the world in women’s golf are Asian. Park is currently ranked the No. 1 golfer in the world. The 25-year-old won three straight major golf championships this year. Park leads the charge of great Asian golfers in the sport. There will be much more to come in 2014.

Li Na also had a great year in women’s tennis. Na was the runner-up in the 2013 Australian Open and made the semifinals of the U.S. Open, where she lost to the eventual champion Serena Williams.

10.  Kelli Suguro – A senior walk-on with the University of Washington softball team, Suguro was an All-Pac 12 honorable mention last year. Suguro helped the team make another run at the NCAA Women’s College World Series. She scored some notoriety with a great play last season that made ESPN’s Top Play of the Night — a nightly feature on the network’s SportsCenter.

9.  Tim Lincecum – The former University of Washington standout pitcher has been an annual mainstay on this list. He continues to be a valuable part of the San Francisco Giants pitching staff. The highlight for this season was pitching a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres on July 13th. For his work, he signed a two-year, $35 million contract with the Giants, which will keep him in San Francisco through 2015.

8. Kim Ng – Would the Mariners be better had the organization hired Ng? We couldn’t have done any worse. Ng, one of the finalists for the Mariners’ general manager position in 2008, is now a Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations for Major League Baseball. Prior to that, she had positions with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees. Despite not getting the chance to be the first Asian American woman to be a top executive for a Major League Baseball team, Ng is still a trailblazer and role model in baseball.

7.  Peyton Siva – The former Franklin High School basketball star had a big year. He helped the Louisville Cardinals win the 2013 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. He was an Academic All-American and shortly after his graduation, he was drafted into the NBA by the Detroit Pistons. He also married his longtime girlfriend at Louisville’s home arena.

6.  Jeanette Lee (aka The Black Widow) – The longtime professional pool player was elected to the Hall of Fame of her sport. Given the nickname because she would “eat her opponents alive,” she dominated the billiard circuit, despite her physical ailments.

5.  Hines Ward – While some athletes fall out of shape and get a belly after retiring, Ward has remained active. He trained for the Ironman Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. Hines completed the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run in 13 hours, 8 minutes, and 15 seconds. Ward, who is half Korean, participated with help from his sponsor, Chocolate Milk.

4.  Jeremy Lin – Linsanity still lives. In fact, Lin has had a couple of outstanding games this season, which reminded everyone of two seasons ago. However, injuries have set Lin back this year. For those who missed the hype of “Linsanity,” a documentary, “Linsanity: The Movie,” detailing his journey from benchwarmer to toast-of-the-town, was in theatres this year. The film was shown at Sundance and the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in 2013. It should be available via DVD in 2014.

3.  Marques Tuiasosopo – The former University of Washington (UW) quarterback got his chance to coach the football team at the Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 27. The opportunity arose as former UW head coach Steve Sarkisian bolted for Southern California to take the vacated job at USC. According to news reports, new UW coach Chris Peterson offered Tuiasosopo the position of tight ends coach, but “Tui” has instead accepted an offer as tight ends coach for USC.

2.  Doug Baldwin – The Seattle Seahawks have had one of its best seasons in recent memory and dreams of a Super Bowl in 2014 are in the team’s grasp. Baldwin is one of the team’s unsung heroes. He is a clutch wide receiver and a favorite target of Russell Wilson on third downs. Currently, he leads the team in receiving yards and is tied for most touchdowns by a wide receiver. At a recent home game, Baldwin ran out of the Seahawks tunnel with the Filipino flag to bring awareness and support for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan. Baldwin is part Filipino and has relatives in the Philippines.

1. Erik Spoelestra – You win an NBA Championship, and you make this list. You win back-to-back and you get the top spot. “Coach Spo,” as he’s known, led the Miami Heat to another NBA Championship. The Heat are the favorites this year to make it a “3peat.” Spoelestra, who is half Filipino, has made public service announcements on behalf of the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Spoelestra went to high school in Portland and played college basketball at the University of Portland. In 1989, he was named Freshman of the Year in the West Coast Conference.

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Top 10 Asian American athletes in 2013