By NAN Sports Editor
News Americas, RIO, Brazil, Thurs. Aug. 18, 2016: He is noticeable because he is the only black man on the Japanese men’s relay team and on Thursday morning he left many tongues wagging as he anchored his team to the win over favorites Jamaica in the 4×100-m men’s relay heats.
But few bothered to note that Asuka “Aska” Antonio Cambridge was actually born in Jamaica, West Indies even though he is running for Japan. Cambridge’s father is Jamaican and his mother Japanese.
The 23-year-old, who helped shatter the Japanese and Asian records for the 4×100-m Thursday as well in a time of 37.68, has been running in sprinting events from a young age.
He competed for his high school in Tokyo and later at Nihon University, where he studied literature and science. He was fourth in the 100 m at the 2011 National Sports Festival of Japan.
At the 2012 World Junior Championships in Athletics he narrowly missed out on the 200 m final but he excelled in the relay alongside Kazuma Oseto, Akiyuki Hashimoto, and Kazuki Kanamori – the team ran an Asian junior record of 39.01 seconds in the heats (the fastest of all the qualifiers) and were just one hundredth slower in the final, where they claimed the bronze medals.
In 2013, Cambridge improved his personal bests to 10.33 seconds for the 100 m and 20.62 seconds for the 200 m. He won his first international gold medals at the 2013 East Asian Games in October: he beats compatriot Shōta Iizuka in the 200 m to become East Asian champion and then teamed up with his rival to secure the 4×100 metres relay title for Japan. Their time of 38.44 seconds was a new East Asian Games record – an improvement of nearly half a second.
Cambridge qualified for Rio by winning the 100-m final at the Japan Championships in 10.16.