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Nikkei Olympians

Abdul Hakim Sani Brown, Sakura Kokumai, Aaron Wolf

By David Yamaguchi The North American Post

In the blitz of American media coverage that is the Olympics, it is easy to lose track of Nikkei and Japanese athletes. Two of many who would be interesting to watch include the following:

Abdul Hakim Sani Brown (Track,  Team Japan)

If you have been a troglodyte (cave dweller) of late, it is easy not to know Brown’s name. However, a quick glance on the internet at the sprinter with a Ghanaian father and a Japanese mother reveals headlines such as, “Faster than Usain Bolt.” Interestingly, the sprinter attended high school in Japan, where he is known simply as “Sani Brown.” In Japanese media interviews, he sounds like any other Japanese person on the street. Yet in American interviews he could also pass as any other American. He has been training in Florida since 2017.

Sakura Kokumai (Karate, USA)

In April, the Hawaii native was the target of anti-Asian racism when she was working out in a park near Los Angeles.

In an interview with Kyodo News, she says, “If it wasn’t me, someone could have gotten hurt.”

In Tokyo, she is likely to be among the few non-Japanese competitors with relatives in the stands.

Aaron Wolf (Judo, Japan)

The Japan-raised Wolf likes judo because it differs from other sports in requiring thinking to adapt to individual opponents, as opposed to timed sports, such as track, where one is mainly racing the clock. He captured the All-Japan title in 2019.

“My English isn’t very good,” Wolf said in a 2019 U.S. Embassy interview.