By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
It was redemption for Nathan Chen. The Utah native won the gold medal at the 2022 Beijing Olympics in the men’s free skate competition. Four years earlier, Chen was favored to win a gold medal in the same event, but fell to a bronze medal at the Pyeongchang Olympics. In addition to Chen’s gold medal, he helped Team USA win a silver medal in the team competition. Chen also used his platform to assist with a COVID-19 public education program, “We Can Do This,” an initiative by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Chen released his memoir, “One Jump at a Time: My Story,” last month.
Is it possible that the most valuable player in the National Hockey League (NHL) this season is Asian American? The Dallas Stars forward could be the first. Robertson, who is part Filipino, leads the NHL in goal scoring through the first three months. He also is second in overall points in the NHL. Last week, he had his first hat trick, three goals in one game, of the season and has helped the Stars to lead the Central Division in the NHL. Based on analytics, the Stars having Robertson on the ice has helped the team score more goals and win. Robertson is only 23 years old and will likely be one of the future faces of the NHL.
The Californian snowboarder became the first woman to win two gold medals in the halfpipe competition at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Kim earned her first gold medal in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018. Kim won the Beijing gold convincingly, having won the competition in her first run of the final round. Capitalizing on her fame, she was made a character in the popular Fortnite video game in March.
The Cleveland Guardians left fielder was a pleasant surprise for the American League Central Division Champions. Kwan started off the year on a hot streak hitting for the Guardians and remained consistent as the team’s leadoff hitter. He also provided stellar defense in the outfield as he earned the Gold Glove Award for excellence in fielding. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting.
While she represented China in freestyle skiing in the Olympics, the 19-year-old Gu was born in San Francisco, California. She became the youngest gold medalist in freestyle skiing, winning the gold in the big air event and the women’s freeski halfpipe competition. She added a silver medal in the slopestyle event. She was the first freestyle skier to win three medals at a Winter Olympics. She was awarded the Best Breakthrough Athlete and Best Female Action Sports Athlete ESPY Awards at the 2022 ESPYs handed out by ESPN. In addition, Gu has a lucrative modeling career and sponsorship deals outside of skiing.
The Utah Jazz guard had the opportunity to finally play for the Filipino National Team this past summer in FIBA Competition. Clarkson first played for the national team in the Asian Games in 2018. In August of 2022, he played for Team Philippines in a loss to Lebanon in the 2023 World Cup qualifiers. Clarkson scored 27 points in the defeat. As for his NBA team, Clarkson has helped the Jazz this season to a respectable 14-12 record as of this writing and is averaging a career-high 19.7 points per game.
The Atlanta Falcons placekicker is having another stellar season. Prior to the season, Koo signed a five-year, $24.25 million contract extension. Koo has come a long way since he was an undrafted free agent in 2017 and cut by the Los Angeles Chargers in his first year.
The California figure skater competed in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The 17-year-old Liu placed 7th in the competition. Despite not making the podium, she was proud of her performance and fulfilled her dream of making the Olympics. She went on to compete at the 2022 World Championships and took third in the competition. Shortly after the competition, Liu announced her retirement from ice skating. She was the first women’s figure skater since 2022, to not attempt to make a second Olympics.
The Minnesota Vikings safety, who is part Filipino, made sure that people know that he supports his heritage. The NFL’s annual My Cause My Cleats Initiative highlights charities and organizations that players support by having specialized shoes to show the support. Bynum dedicated his “My Cause My Cleats” to the Keys to Freedom Ministries, which helps typhoon victims in the country. “I rep my roots heavy,” said the 24-year-old rookie. Bynum made a key interception at the end of the game against the New York Jets this month. This season, Bynum has two interceptions to go along with 31 solo tackles. In the post-game interview in the locker room, Bynum wore a Filipino flag over his uniform as he brimmed with happiness from his team’s win, his interception, and the chance to talk about his cause.
It was a breakout year for the tennis player out of San Diego. The 21-year-old Japanese American made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon to go along with his third round appearances in the French Open and U.S. Open. It was a very good year in the Grand Slam events for his third year in his pro career.
Jason can be reached at email@example.com.
Chris Kenji Beer says
Kim, Bynum, Chen, ok. Wow, out of touch with the rest; so many more higher profile Asian athletes.