By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. It’s been a big month for sports and we take a look at two local sports stars,and a dominant personality in tennis.
Adrian remains upbeat after cancer diagnosis
Bremerton, Wash. native and Olympic gold medalist Nathan Adrian was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer. After going to see his doctor because something “didn’t seem quite right,” he was referred to specialists who diagnosed him with having cancer. The 30-year-old stated that doctors had caught the cancer early and he started treatment immediately. In late January, Adrian told his fans via social media that he had surgery to remove lymph nodes.
Adrian won a gold medal as part of the 4×100 meter freestyle team that set a world record at the 2008 Olympic games in Beijing. He returned to the 2012 London Olympics to win two more: gold and a silver. In his return to the Olympics in Rio in 2016, Adrian added more medals: two gold and two bronze.
Despite the health setback, Adrian remains positive about his prognosis and hopes to return for a fourth Olympics in Tokyo.
We wish him the best in his recovery.
Alysa Liu is the newest, young figure skating star
At just 13 years old, Alysa Liu became the youngest skater in history to win the U.S. senior ladies’ title. Liu’s performance, which sealed the championship, included two triple axles. The Richmond, Calif. native is one of just three other Americans to perform the jump which requires the skater to gain enough speed to plant their skate on the ice, jump and perform three rotations in the air while landing. Her winning routine included eight triple jumps and was the most demanding technical skate of the night.
Liu is being revered as the most promising U.S. skater since Michelle Kwan when she finished second at the 1994 Senior Ladies’ Championships.
Liu is oldest child of Arthur Liu, who immigrated to the United States from China. He is raising Liu and her four siblings — a 9-year-old younger sister and 8-year-old triplets— with his partner. Liu and her sisters were born with the help of a surrogate mother.
Liu attended Chinese school for three years before her father switched her to Oakland School for the Arts which has a figure skating emphasis. But due to travel for competitions, Liu switched to being home schooled at her father’s law office.
Since winning the ladies’ figure skating title, the outgoing Liu has been a media darling. One might expect her to be vying for a spot to compete at the Beijing games in 2022.
Naomi Osaka flexes dominance in winning Australian Open
Coming off of a U.S. Open victory last September, Japan’s Naomi Osaka is asserting herself as a force in women’s tennis. She won the Australian Open over Petra Kvitova and with the win propelled her to the number 1 women’s tennis player in the world. She becomes the first Asian to become number 1.
The 21-year-old said that the Grand Slam victory, her second straight, “felt really special.” She uses a booming serve and aggressive play to overtake her opponents. She proved to be dominant during her tournament down under.
Osaka’s mother is Japanese and her father is from Haiti. Yet her tan complexion was not depicted in a recent advertisement by Japanese food brand Nissin. The company released an anime-style ad which depicted the brown-skinned Osaka as a whitewashed tennis player. The company apologized for the inaccurate depiction after many complained.
“I don’t think they did it on purpose to be ‘whitewashing’ or anything,” said Osaka in response to the controversy. However, an op-ed in the Washington Post disagreed with the player as old stereotypes that infer a light-skinned character is better-received than a darker skinned one.
The good news is that advertisers and marketers will need to get used to Osaka. If that means that Japanese advertisers will need to amend the complexion of ads, so be it.
Osaka is at the top of the women’s tennis world. And it doesn’t look like she’s even at the peak of her career.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.