Tokyo Olympics 2020: US Confirm Four Athletes for Karate

Published 07/17/2021, 10:51 AM EDT
The Olympic Rings monument is seen outside the Japan Olympic Committee (JOC) headquarters near the National Stadium, the main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games that have been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan June 23, 2021 on the day to mark one month until the opening of the Olympic Games. REUTERS/Issei Kato


Karate makes its debut on the Olympic stage in Tokyo. With Japan reserving a spot in every category, other countries had to vie for one coveted spot. As for the US team, they have three star athletes representing them at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Pan American Champion Ariel Torres head to Tokyo Olympics 2020

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

After beating Wang Yi-ta, Park Hee-jun and Abolfazl Shahrjerdi, Ariel Torres is heading to the Tokyo Olympics. He’s also a former 2019 Pan American Games silver medalist and a 2019 karate gold medalist. Now, he has the chance to add an Olympic medal to his tally.

Talking to People magazine, Torres talked about his Olympic qualification. “I just want to make my community, my family, everyone that’s done something or even said something positive to me, proud.” Will he be able to go from performing kata forms on the street to standing on an Olympic podium?

Brian Irr to compete in the men’s kumite category

A student of Brody Burns at the Academy of Classical Karate, Brian Irr is the second member of Team USA’s karate team. At 32, he will head to the Tokyo Olympics to fulfil his dream of representing his country at the highest stage. He’s competed in Japan before, but the Olympics will be his biggest test.

Speaking to Plano magazine, Irr talked about the tremendous opportunity to compete in Tokyo. “Once it was announced that karate was going to be an Olympic sport, that was when I made the big push to really pursue this full-time. It’s been a two-year qualification process.”

Sakura Kokumai becomes the first female karate athlete from the US to head to Tokyo Olympics 2020

2019 Pan American Karate Champion Sakura Kokumai makes history. Being the first female athlete from the US to compete in karate at the Olympics is a tremendous accomplishment. A first generation American whose parents were born in Japan, this will be a sort of homecoming for Sakura.

At 28, she’s one of the youngest competitors in the field, but she can pack a punch. She became the first athlete to qualify for the US Olympic karate team, ahead of Ariel Torres and Brian Irr. Although her journey seemed easy, she actually battled anti-Asian racism on her path to Olympic qualification.

This team looks sharp, but will they stand a chance against the mighty Japanese team? Will this team of all-stars pull of a podium finish at the Tokyo Olympics 2020?

Who gets the last spot?

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

The last spot on the USA roster for karate goes to Tom Scott. Competing in the 75 kg kumite division. He is a two-time Pan American Karate Champion and even competed in the Olympic qualifiers. Unfortunately, he couldn’t secure qualification that way.

However, a vacancy led to the World Karate Federation awarding him a spot. Now, the 31-year-old Texan has the chance to add an Olympic medal to his already decorated career.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

DIVE DEEPER

Tokyo Olympics 2020: All Rules and Scoring Details for Judo

11 days ago

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Nathan Fulgado

1188 articles

Nathan Fulgado is a WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports. Having published close to 1000 professional wrestling articles, Nathan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from Xavier's College. He has previously worked at Free Press Journal as a local journalist.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT