By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
Welcome to another edition of The Layup Drill. As we head into the summer, we take a look back at a major record set by a Taiwanese athlete. In addition, Filipino American brothers are seeking to make it in the NHL.
World’s fastest woman remembered
This month marks the 50th anniversary of Chi Cheng’s incredible feet to break the women’s world record in two sprint events at the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand. Chi won the 100 meters event in 10 seconds—a world record at the time. An hour later, she set another world record when she ran the 220 yards event in 22.7 seconds.
Chi’s humble beginnings began in Taiwan where she ran barefoot among the rice fields. Her father borrowed money from a friend so that she could buy track spikes.
Chi came to the United States where she went to Cal Poly Pomona and ran track. She won four U.S. national championships and was a dominant force in college track. She went on to represent China in the 1960, 1964, and 1968 Olympics. At the 1968 Olympics, she won the Bronze Medal in the women’s 80-meter hurdles.
Chi was ranked first in the world in the 100 and 200 meters in 1970. Unfortunately for Chi, she suffered a career-ending leg injury at the 1970 Asian Games.
Chi eventually returned to Taiwan, where she went on to work in government. Chi’s remarkable achievements should not be forgotten as she was once the fastest woman in the world.
Filipino American brothers seek to make it in NHL
The NHL is seeking to reopen this summer to continue its 2019-2020 season, and the Robertson brothers hope to be a part of it. Jason, 20, was drafted by the Dallas Stars in 2017 and Nick, 18, was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2019 draft. The brothers have been working their way through the minor leagues with the hope of playing professionally. Both have represented Team USA in junior hockey and are doing well in the sport. Jason won a silver medal with Team USA in 2019 and Nick made the National Junior Team in 2020. He was the youngest player on the roster.
Growing up in Southern California, the Robertson boys would go to Los Angeles Kings hockey games with their father and found their passion for the sport. They started skating at local rinks in California. But when they moved to Michigan in 2010, their hockey growth began with local leagues.
The brothers were born in Manila and moved to Los Angeles as young kids. Their mother is from the Philippines and moved to the United States to escape the Ferdinand Marcos regime. Rinks in Southern California are few and far between for youth hockey so their father, originally from Michigan, moved them back to the Midwest where hockey is more prevalent.
The boys actually began playing hockey when they were 4 or 5 years old and learned numbers by looking at the back of players’ jerseys. The brothers realize that they are role models to aspiring Asian hockey players out there. Both have been approached by younger Asian players that say that they look up to them because of their heritage. Nick has been especially moved by the following as Toronto has a big Asian-Canadian demographic.
In 2017, when Jason was drafted, two other Asians were drafted, which included Japanese American players Nick Suzuki and Kailer Yamamoto. It was the first time in the NHL that three Asians had been drafted, which shows the disparity in minority representation in the sport.
Notably, only one player of Filipino descent has played in the NHL prior to Jason’s debut this past February. Minnesota defenseman Matt Dumba was the first Filipino to play in the NHL. Dumba, a Canadian, noted that despite the fact he was the only Filipino in hockey, many Asian fans, especially when the team came to play games on the West Coast, would approach him. The older Robertson was called up to the NHL prior to the league stopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The brothers are living and working out together while the league awaits to return.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.