CNN’s ‘Local Hero’ meets five iconic Japanese athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympics

HONG KONG, Jan. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — This month, CNN profiles five incredible Japanese athletes whose stories of strength, ambition and sporting glory define what it means to be a ‘Local Hero.’

In this brand-new 30-minute program, CNN sports anchor and correspondent Coy Wire looks ahead to the Tokyo Olympics and asks these competitors to reflect on what this moment means to them.

CNN’s ‘Local Hero’ meets five iconic Japanese athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympics
CNN’s ‘Local Hero’ meets five iconic Japanese athletes ahead of the Tokyo Olympics

In 2019, Kanoa Igarashi became the first Japanese surfer to claim a World Surf League championship tour event – a feat which launched him to an impressive sixth place global ranking. CNN joins him as he trains for the Tokyo Games, where he’ll represent Japan and the sport of surfing in its Olympic debut.

Like surfing, the sport of skateboarding will also be making its Olympic debut. CNN catches up with Aori Nishimura, a professional skateboarder and a favorite in the Tokyo Games.

Nishimura says she has noticed a growing interest in her sport in Japan over the years, particularly among women, and hopes her performance on the Olympic stage will encourage more people to take up the board.

In 2017, Takuma Sato became the first Asian driver to win the Indy 500. Just three years later, he won his second.

Despite having conquered one of racing’s most prestigious competitions twice, the 43-year-old shows no signs of slowing down. Sato reflects on his career and achievements, and looks to the next generation to make an even bigger impact on the world of motorsport.

Baseball has become one of Japan’s most popular sports, producing legendary players like Koji Uehara. Not only did he play for Japan’s Yomiuri Giants and transfer to Major League Baseball in the U.S., but he also competed twice for Japan in the Olympics.

After two decades as a professional baseball pitcher, Uehara retired in 2019 – but he stays connected to the sport through his work as a commentator.

Finally, CNN meets former judo champion Kaori Matsumoto, who made a name for herself as one of the top female judokas in the world – winning gold at the London Olympics in 2012 and bronze at the Rio Games in 2016.

These days, she’s pivoted to an entirely different passion: making healthy ice cream in Tokyo.

Local Hero trailer:
Local Hero images:

Airtimes for 30-minute special:
Sunday, January 17 at 1:30am and 7:00pm HKT
Monday, January 18 at 7:00am HKT

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CNN has won multiple prestigious awards around the world for its journalism. Around 1,000 hours of long-form series, documentaries and specials are produced every year by CNNI’s non-news programming division. CNN has 36 editorial offices and more than 1,100 affiliates worldwide through CNN Newsource. CNN International is a WarnerMedia company.

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