Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month
by USA Weightlifting
Tommy Kono was a 3 time Olympic medalist at the 1952, 1956, and 1960 Olympic Games. Kono was born in Sacramento, CA and was later relocated with his family to a Japanese internment camp where he was introduced to the Olympic lifts and strength training. This introduction resulted in a storied weightlifting career with 2 Olympic gold medals and 1 Olympic silver medal to highlight his numerous world and Pan-American titles. In addition to his weight lifting career Kono competed in numerous bodybuilding events and was named “Mr. Universe” in 1955, 1957, and 1961. His contributions to the sport of weight lifting include consulting with Adidas on the low cut weightlifting shoe and creating bands to protect and support knee and elbow joints.
Jenny Hwa (Lam) - San Francisco, CA
Fast forward to today with 12 years under my belt, I am still competing at Nationals every year and coaching youth and master's athletes on our team. I have been very fortunate to be a part of a diverse team, with people who come from different backgrounds. Although weightlifting is often seen as an individual sport, I fully believe in the saying- “it takes a village to raise a child” (or athlete in this case). My goal is to continue building this community, welcoming people to our gym, and exposing weightlifting to anyone and everyone. As an athlete, I always ask myself “Why.” Why am I still in this sport? It’s simple, it is the pure passion and authentic love for it. I can’t wait for the next 12 years!
I also want to highlight my experiences in the lens of an Asian American woman in a male-dominated sport. Being raised in a traditional Chinese household, I was taught to conform to the social norms of who and what Asian women should be. Weightlifting has taught me to be resilient and strong in more than just what I do in the gym; it has allowed me to use my platform to inspire and empower others, especially young girls to know that it's ok be strong and lift heavy weights. I strive to lead by example and demonstrate that anyone can participate in weightlifting, regardless of their background.
Bob Takano is one of the most recognizable names in weightlifting producing multiple national champions and american record holders. Takano was the personal coach to 1984 Olympian Albert Hoods as well as a multiple time national team coach and team leader. Outside of coaching Takano contributes to strength training research with 6 published works and 2 training manuals.
Mira Kwon Gracia is the current co-owner of club director for Industrial Strength WLC in Portland, Oregon. As Oregan LWC president Mira has enacted policy changes that promote inclusive training and competition environments for its members.
Mike Choi is a current category 1 international referee, USA Weightlifting board member, and National team coach. In addition to his volunteer roles Choi has served as a part of the production team at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. Mike competes in the 96kg weight class and has competed at the 2017 World Masters Games as an 85kg masters lifter.
Vinh Huynh is an international level coach and current Minnesota LWC representative. Huynh is part of Mash Elite Performance as a coach and blogger. Ninh served as the personal coach to Brian Reisenauer who competed in both the pan american and world championships. Vinh currently owns Union Weightlifting Minneapolis, CA.
D’Angelo Osorio is a former Olympic training center resident and 102kg weightlifter. Osorio represented the US team at the 2013 Junior World championships, the 2017 and 2019 Pan American championships, and the 2018 Qatar cup. Osorio is a level 1 coach and is based in Vajello, CA.
Alex Lee is a former Olympic Training center resident, World team member, Pan American team member, and club owner in Chandler, AZ. Lee began competing when he was 16 years old where he was introduced to the sport through his high school football coach. Alex currently coaches and owns ALee Weightlifting, a remote and in person team. His accolades include: 9x American Record Holder, 3x World Team Member, 5x Pan Am Team Member, 2x National Champion, 2010 World University Champion and 2008 Junior World Team Member.
Ali is a 90kg weightlifter who represented team USA in 2017 at the World Championships in Anaheim, CA where she helped the 2017 women’s team secure the first place title. Ludwig became the first ever 90kg national champion following the changing of the weight classes in 2017. Before transitioning into the sport of weightlifting Ludwig competed in high school volleyball and crossfit before finding success in weightlifting.
Taylor Wilkins (Turner) is the current 59kg National record holder in the snatch, clean and jerk, and total. A former softball player, Wilkins found the sport of weightlifting in 2015 where she began working with coach Vance Newguard at Northern Michigan University. Taylor represented team USA at the 2017 Junior Pan American championships, 2017 Summer Universiade, 2018 University World Championships, and the 2020 Pan American Championships.