Karate

sportscasting.com

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.

World Karate Federation (Instagram)

The European Karate Championships concluded in Poreč, Croatia Sunday with Turkey dominating on both the men's and women's sides. The Turks led the standings with six golds and nine overall medals. Germany was a distant second with two golds and five total medals. But despite taking two of the five men's kumite categories behind 84 kg winner Uğur Aktaş and 60 kg champion Eray Şamdan, Turkey couldn't medal in the men's team kumite competition, which was won by host country Croatia.

Similarly, though Serap Özçelik won gold in the women's 50 kg division and Meltem Hocaoğlu took the women's over 68 kg category for Turkey, the Turks could only manage second in women's team kumite as Germany came out on top while Italy secured the women's team kata event. Turkey, meanwhile, managed to snag the men's team kata competition behind individual winner Ali Sofuoğlu.


The man who apparently launched a racist verbal attack on U.S. women's kata champion Sakura Kokumai earlier this month in a California park has been arrested following a physical assault on an elderly Korean-American couple in the same park Sunday. Michael Vivona is accused of punching a 79-year-old man and his 80-year-old wife without provocation.

Mynewsla.com reported that a group of people playing basketball in Grijalva Park at the time of the assault recognized Vivona from his previous harassment of Kokumai and surrounded him until a nearby police officer arrived to make an arrest. The incident with Kokumai, who is slated to represent the United States in this summer's Tokyo Olympics, gained widespread notice after she posted a video of it on social media in an effort to increase awareness about the growing threat of anti-Asian racism.


Karateka Sakura Kokumai, a seven-time women's national kata champion who is slated to represent the United States in this year's Olympics, released a video showing a man unleashing a racially motivated verbal assault on her as she trained in a Southern California park on April 2. Kokumai, who is of Japanese descent, didn't know why the stranger was yelling insults at her until he began making anti-Chinese comments.

Though she's aware of the recent increase in Anti-Asian racism occurring across the U.S. giving rise to a number of violent attacks, Kokumai didn't expect it to happen at a park where she regularly trains. She told local KTLA 5 News, "I thought what if this was my grandmom or anyone in my family, then that scares me," which motivated her to release the video via social media. Kokumai added one of the most disturbing things about the incident was how other people just stood by without intervening, though one woman did come up to see if she was okay after the incident.