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.

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Karate’s long fight to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

Question: Which of the following is not an official Olympic medal sport? Is it A) Judo, B)  Taekwondo, or C) Karate? If you guessed C) Karate, then you answered correctly.

It may come as a surprise to you that karate is not an official Olympic sport, despite its widespread popularity throughout the world. In fact, karate has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee on three separate occasions. However, the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics have created a new movement for official adoption, along with a new strategy.

Judo made its Olympic debut in the 1964 Tokyo games, having been featured in all but one Olympics up to the present. Taekwondo made its grand entrance during the 2000 Sydney games. So why is karate – far older than established Olympic events such as table tennis, water polo, and volleyball – not among them?

There are actually a multitude of reasons, including the fact that there are so many different styles of karate, each one having different lineages, focuses, philosophies, and number of forms. It’s near impossible to pick just one to use for official purposes at the Olympics — it would be like proclaiming that one style more “correct” than the others. However, karate is already an official sport in the Asian Games, which are held every four years and are billed as the second-largest multi-sport event after the Olympics. So perhaps all hope is not lost…

Enter Kyokushin (極真; literally: “the ultimate truth”), a style of full contact karate that was founded in 1964 by the Korean-Japanese martial artist Masutatsu Oyama/Choi Young-Eui. There are estimated to be over 12,000,000 practitioners of Kyokushin karate spread out over 120 countries around the world, with over 230 organizations in Japan alone.Due to its strong emphasis on hard techniques (a martial arts term that refers to the priority given to countering force with force), Kyokushin has often been seen as actual combat fighting rather than a sport, a view which has hindered its progress towards inclusion in the Olympics.

 

▼Kyokushin’s emphasis on contact sparring

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Tokyo’s winning bid to host the 2020 Games has sparked renewed efforts to include karate as an Olympic sport for the first time ever in the country of its origin. However, this time, the endeavor will aim to promote both a traditional style of karate with softer techniques (in which the force of the opponent is deflected while exerting minimal force), as well as the hard-technique Kyokushin style. The two styles will try to advance together in the hopes of making the Olympic cut. If their joint effort succeeds, they will become two separate Olympic disciplines, similar to how both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling are included on the official roster.

Furthermore, if both of the styles make the cut this time around, there may be negative consequences for taekwondo, the Korean martial art with an emphasis on powerful kicking. Taekwondo has already suffered from poor TV ratings during past Olympics, and with its similarities to Kyokushin karate, there has already been talk of dropping it from the Games altogether.

Sources: Hachima KikouChosun Online

 

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Karate’s long fight to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

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Miss Korea dazzles, but misses final round at Miss Universe

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Miss Korea Kim Yu-mi fell short of the final round of the Miss Universe competition on Saturday in Moscow, Russia.

Kim had been named the the most popular contestant in an unofficial online vote by a Spanish newspaper earlier this week, sparking speculation that Kim would be one of the finalists, according to the Chosun Ilbo.

The evening began with all 86 contestants taking the stage in red and black cocktail dresses, then changing into red and black bikinis. Kim failed to make cut for the Top 16.

The title of most beautiful woman in the universe went to Venezuela’s Gabriela Isler, the seventh Miss Universe win for that country. In the past 20 years, Latinas have taken the crown more than half of the time.

While the 23-year-old Kim is able to rock a bikini or dress any day of the week, she can certainly pack a resume. According to her Miss Universe profile, Kim plays the piano, violin and gayageum, a traditional Korean string instrument, and she is skilled in ballet and taekwondo.

Kim aspires to be a professor at a university, and she attributes much of her success to her father, who taught her to follow her dreams and the importance of love and family.

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Miss Korea dazzles, but misses final round at Miss Universe

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Olympic Medalist Toby Dawson to Wed Former Taekwondo Champion, Kim Yeon-ji

Former Olympic star Toby Dawson is set to marry Kim Yeon-ji, a former member of the South Korean national taekwondo team on Sept. 14 in Seoul.

Dawson, 35, is the current coach the Korean national freestyle skiing team. The Korean adoptee rose to prominence in his native country after winning a bronze medal for the U.S. in freestyle mogul skiing at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. The couple first met two years ago as members of South Korea’s bid committee for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Kim, 32, is a former lightweight world champion in taekwondo. She won the World Taekwondo Championships twice in 2001 and 2003.

Like her father, Kim (32) became a world champion in the lightweight class of the Korean martial art, winning the World Taekwondo Championships twice in 2001 and 2003. She has been working for the Korean Olympic Committee after retiring  in 2005.

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Olympic Medalist Toby Dawson to Wed Former Taekwondo Champion, Kim Yeon-ji

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