Sakura Kokumai wants karate to shine in its Olympic debut | USA TODAY

Sakura Kokumai quit her job and moved from Tokyo to Los Angeles to focus on karate. Now, Kokumai represents USA’s best chance at a medal in the sport.


She did not grow up with dreams of making it to the Olympics. And when that became a realistic goal, she did not have the financial or organizational support that so many other Olympic athletes enjoy.

“It did feel lonely at times,” Kokumai said. “It was very challenging. And I hope that the younger generations of athletes (will) not experience what I had to experience as an athlete.”

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