“My Favorite Athlete”: Naomi Osaka Reveals Admiration for World’s Fastest Man Usain Bolt

Published 04/15/2021, 8:44 AM EDT
Mar 31, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Naomi Osaka of Japan hits a forehand against Maria Sakkari of Greece (not pictured) in a women’s singles quarterfinal in the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports


Today, Naomi Osaka is a role model for many aspiring young girls across the globe. Success has catapulted her to the cream of women’s tennis, making her one of the most followed modern-day athletes. However, the Japanese tennis superstar has traveled a long road to get where she is, taking more than a touch of inspiration from her own role models along the way.

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When it comes to the icons she grew up watching, retired Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, labeled the World’s Fastest Man, figures right up there.

In an interview shot last year ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, which was later postponed to this year amid concerns around the pandemic, the current World No.2 revealed her most abiding Olympic memory.

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The Osakas loved to watch Usain Bolt sprint to glory

Osaka said the one golden nugget from the summer Games that has stayed with her was seeing the eight-time Olympic Gold medalist sprint to glory, leaving his opponents trailing his shadow and spectators in rapt amazement.

The 23-year-old said not just herself, her entire family loved to watch Bolt run and break into his trademark celebration after setting new sprinting records.

She added that her father, too, is a huge fan of the track-and-field legend.

Tennis – Australian Open – Women’s Singles Final – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates winning her final match against Jennifer Brady of the U.S. REUTERS/Loren Elliott

“(My) outstanding Olympic memory is just watching Bolt run. He’s my favorite athlete and me and my family, my dad, really loves his running. So we’d just, like, watch him,” Osaka said.

Representing her country at the highest level, and that too on home soil is a long-nurtured dream that she will fulfill this year, barring any unforeseen problems.

Naomi Osaka has underlined her hard court acumen with US Open and Australian Open titles

Underlining her supremacy on hard courts, Osaka followed up her US Open title last year with her second Australian Open trophy this year.

It was also her fourth career Grand Slam title, making her the only person since former Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova to have achieved the feat.

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The 23-year-old had set up a dream semi-final date with another of her idols, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, having beaten her in the 2018 US Open final, their only previous meeting at a Major.

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The veteran couldn’t level with the Osaka challenge on the day, going down in straight sets to mark another agonizing end to a Grand Slam campaign.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

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Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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