Sarah’s Story: World Champion — but what about the Olympics?

13 July 2021 By Paul Martin

A portrait of the endearing Japanese heavyweight judoka who, though world champion in 2018 and 2021, is battling to make it onto the mat in the Olympics and is simultaneously pursuing a planned career as a doctor. 

Sarah Asahina has just won the World Championships (for the second time) [June 2021]. There, she also became a sort of worldwide hero figure … because, after Sarah injured another Japanese fighter in the final, Sarah chose to give her defeated opponent a piggy-back off the mat.

Former Olympic silver-medallist and world champion Neil Adams goes to Japan to meet Sarah as she trains in a unique sports university environment; as she competes in a major competition; and as she gets drilled (physically) by her mother, a dentist, and (figuratively) by her father, her most enthusiastic supporter.


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