Why Sprinter Michael Norman is Learning Japanese for His Olympic Debut in Tokyo

Michael Norman

Sprinter Michael Norman is hoping for some warm reception in Japan when he makes his Olympic debut in Tokyo next month.

Embracing his roots:  The 23-year-old athlete, who was born to an American father and a Japanese mother in California, earned his Olympic slot after winning the men’s 400-meter final at the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field in Oregon on June 20.

  • Norman revealed in an interview with KSL Sports that he has been learning to speak Japanese so he can have conversations with relatives from his mother’s side.
  • Norman, a state champion at Vista Murrieta High and a national champion at USC, said he looks up to his mother, Nobue Saito.
  • Saito, an accomplished student-athlete herself, even set a middle school record in the 100m in Japan, the official Olympics site noted.
  • Norman won his first race on Japanese soil with an impressive 19.84 seconds for the 200m category at the 2019 Golden Grand Prix Osaka.
  • In an interview with Reuters, he revealed that he was surprised to find his growing Japanese fan base during the Osaka race.
  • “I was actually pretty shocked to see how people recognized me, wanted to take pictures of me,” he said.

Powerhouse: Norman, who won his pro debut race at the 2018 IAAF Diamond League in Paris, is the current world 400m indoor record holder at 44.52 seconds.

Featured Image via Wanda Diamond League

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