Sakura Kokumai Becomes First American Karateka to Qualify for Olympics
On Tuesday USA Karate officially confirmed the first athlete to have made their team for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics selecting Sakura Kokumai to compete in the women's kata event. Kokumai is one of the first 40 athletes the World Karate Federation announced has qualified for the games, with another 40 slots still open.
The 28-year-old Kokumai is originally from Hawaii where she began training in karate at age 7. She's a seven-time U.S. national champion in kata and a gold medalist at the 2019 Pan American Championships. Her best finish at the World Championships was a bronze medal in 2012.
Kokumai made headlines last month when a man harassed her in an apparent example of anti-Asian hate crime as she worked out in a California park. The man was later arrested for assaulting an elderly Korean-American couple in the same park.