The 2016 Olympics are still months away, but Japanese people are already excited about the 2020 Games in Tokyo. And Japan has a strong sense of national pride. So it’s no wonder that I spend a decent amount of time talking about the sports Japan excels in during international competition.
Rugby comes up often now, thanks to the Japan team’s recent success. And of course soccer, judo, and swimming come up frequently. Volleyball remains popular, and earlier this month I even talked about some of the boating events with a student.
Japan has a strong men’s gymnastics team, but I’m always happy to talk about gymnastics because America’s ladies have been the best for as long as I can remember.
In the Olympics we won the gold in 1996 and 2012, Silver in 1984, 2004, and 2008, and Bronze in 1948(!), 1992, and 2000. And individual competitors for the US dominate the individual all-around competition. Most Americans know the names, too: Mary Lou Retton, Kerri Strug, Dominique Moceanu, Shawn Johnson, Nastia Liukin, and all the 2012 gold winners: Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber.
Carly Patterson was a part of the 2004 silver medal-winning team, and won the individual all-around competition that year. I have a collection of gymnastics autographs now, and she is the newest addition to that collection.
I really like Goodwin Champions - it’s the one Upper Deck set I collect each year. In fact, I find that Goodwin has a more appealing selection of subjects than Allen & Ginter some years!