11 Asian American Olympic athletes you need to know before Rio

We have two days left until the Rio Olympic Games – and joining Team USA are several Asian American athletes. Here are the names you should look out for this year:

1. Nathan Adrian

Adrian, who has three Olympic gold medals in swimming already, will be coming to Rio to claim a fourth. The Chinese American will be competing in the 50-meter and 100-meter events.


2. Alexander Massialas

Currently ranked the No. 1 male foil fencer in the world, Massialas, who is Greek and Taiwanese, will represent the U.S. in both the individual and team fencing events.


Jay Litherland (Team USA)
Jay Litherland (Team USA)

3. Jay Litherland

Litherland, who is half-Japanese, will be making his Olympic debut this year, competing in the 400-meter individual medley in swimming, having earned the spot by beating defending gold medalist Ryan Lochte during qualifiers.


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4. Laura Zeng

The 16-year-old rhythmic gymnast will be competing in individuals events this year. Zeng, who is Chinese American broke a record for U.S. rhythmic gymnasts when she placed 8th in the world championships earlier this year.


5. Lee Kiefer

Ranking No. 3 in the world in women’s foil, Kiefer hopes to repeat her success at the Olympics following her wins at the Pan American Championships, where she was the first athlete ever to win seven consecutive titles. The Filipino American will compete in individual fencing at this year’s games.


6. Paige McPherson

McPherson, who is half-Filipino, got her first taste of Olympic victory in London four years ago, where she won a bronze medal for the women’s 67-kilogram taekwondo event. She returns to Rio with hopes of taking home the gold.


7. Kawika and Erik Shoji

The brothers will join Team USA’s volleyball team. The Japanese American duo have volleyball in their blood, as their father has been coaching women’s volleyball for 40 years. Kawika will play setter and Erik will be playing libero.


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8. Micah Christenson

Christenson will join the Shoji brothers and the rest of the volleyball team as a setter. The Honolulu-born 23-year-old was named Best Setter and Best Server in the 2013 NORCECA Continental Championship.


9. Lily Zhang

Zhang will represent the U.S. in table tennis. The Chinese American is the top-ranked female table tennis player in the U.S., and is the only American player to earn a table tennis medal in the Olympics. Her story was seen in “Top Spin,” a documentary directed by Mina T. Son and Sara Newens.


10. Eva Lee

For the first time, Team USA will be represented in all five badminton events. The Pan-Asian group will be led by veteran Eva Lee, in her second Olympics games.


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11. Lia Neal

Neal, who is of African American and Chinese descent, will join the 4×100 meters relay team for swimming in Rio. The previous bronze medalist will join Simone Manuel to make history as the first two black women to swim together in an Olympic team.


Which events are you looking forward to at this year’s Olympics?