2013-01-07 21:04:53

Year in Review: The Top 10 Asian American Sports Figures of 2012

2012 was a great year for Asian American athletes. Despite a strike-shortened regular season, the NBA had major excitement, thanks to the rise of a Taiwanese American point guard from Harvard. The NBA championship series was won by the Miami Heat, coached by Filipino American Erik Spoelstra. The Summer Olympics were held in London, where Asian American athletes won medals, including Bremerton’s Nathan Adrian, whose mother is Chinese.

The year also saw the rise of young Asian golfers qualifying for major tournaments at an age when most would be happy to be getting their driver’s permit. Andy Zhang had the opportunity to play in the U.S. Open golf tournament at the age of 14. Another 14-year-old, Guan Tianlang, played in The Masters. Lydia Ko, at 15, became one of the youngest ever to win a Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) event. University of Washington golfer Cheng-Tsun Pan had a good year on the team as a freshman, ranking in the top 15 amateur golfers nationally. Finally, Taiwanese golfer Yani Tseng was voted one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” for 2012 by Time Magazine. Tseng won 3 LPGA events in 2012.

It was not a good year for Manny Pacquiao, however. Coming off of a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley in June, Pacquiao faced his arch nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in December. It was their fourth fight against each other and many expect a fifth. If his fans thought Pacquiao was Superman, Marquez is his kryptonite. In a brutal fight that saw both men knocked down, Marquez scored a final knock-out on Pacquiao with one second to go in the 6th round. Pacquiao lay motionless, face down on the canvas. It was a scary moment for fans.

With two losses this year, Pacquiao’s famed invincibility is now gone. While it’s likely that he’ll return to the ring, we do not know if he’ll ever be the same. At 34 years old, one must question how much longer he could (or should) continue in the ring.

Ichiro Suzuki was traded to the New York Yankees this summer. A longtime Mariner and face of the franchise, Suzuki requested a trade from Seattle to play for a contender. In July, he was traded to the New York Yankees. Ironically, the Yankees were in town to play the Mariners when the trade occurred. A change of scenery seemed to help Ichiro as his batting average went up and he helped the Yankees make the playoffs. Ichiro will likely finish his career in New York.

In May, the Chinese women’s national basketball team visited Seattle to prepare for the Summer Olympics. The team played an exhibition game against the U.S. Women’s National team at the KeyArena.

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