FAST PITCH: Five more to watch


Here are five more athletes of Asian descent to watch.

Ashima Shiraishi, rock climber, USA
Already one of the premier rock climbers in the world at just 18, Shiraishi has been a competitive climber since she was just seven years old. Known for her bouldering and lead climbing abilities, she is perhaps most famous for her 2016 completion of the boulder problem Horizon on Mount Hiei in Japan, which made her the first female and the youngest to ever climb at a V15 level.

Shiraishi is even more important to watch since she has a chance to represent the USA at the 2020 Olympics during the inaugural run of the sport climbing event. She is currently the highest-rated American woman in the world, and will likely be a frontrunner in Tokyo if she makes the team.

Kanoa Igarashi, surfer, Japan
First appearing on the World Surf League Men’s Championship Tour in 2016 as an 18-year-old, Igarashi is having his best season to date in 2019. Ranked No. 7 in the world, he won his first event this season at the Corona Bali Protected back in May, and is already over the 30,000-point threshold with four events to go.

Although Igarashi is a native of Huntington Beach, Calif., he holds dual citizenship and announced earlier this year he is switching his allegiance to Japan as he hopes to represent the country in 2020 when surfing makes its debut as an Olympic sport.

Heung-Min Son, forward, soccer, Tottenham Hotspur and South Korea
With the UEFA Champions League returning this month, it’s the perfect time to talk about Son, the South Korean winger who helped carry Tottenham to the final last season before ultimately losing to Liverpool. He finished the 2018-19 season with 18 goals in 53 appearances and won Tottenham’s Player of the Year award.

Son is also a regular South Korea international, winning the Asian Games in 2018 and has been voted the Korean Player of the Year three times and Asian Footballer of the Year on four occasions.

Hyun-Jin Ryu, pitcher (L), baseball, Los Angeles Dodgers
Now in his seventh season in Los Angeles, Ryu entered the season as the Dodgers No. 3 pitcher behind Clayton Kershaw and Rich Hill. However, injuries saw him named the opening day starter, and started a comeback season for the South Korean lefty. He leads the MLB in ERA and is top-10 in WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Ryu also made his first All-Star appearance, and was named the All-Star Game starter as well. And with the Dodgers already having clinched their division, Ryu will be a vital piece as they pursue that elusive seventh World Series.

Wang Shuang, midfielder, soccer, Wuhan Chedu Jiangda and China
It may be difficult to actually watch Wang in action since her move back to China this summer, but the former Paris-St. Germain star is still one of the most exciting talents around. Her lone year in France wasn’t a disappointment either, as she scored eight goals and added seven assists in her 27 appearances.

However, she and the Chinese Women’s National Team struggled at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. The group was eliminated in the group stage, and Wang did not score in any of the four matches while also picking up a yellow card.

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