LA Travel & Adventure Show 2022 featuring Tokyo 2020 Games Gold Medalists Yuto Horigome and Jessica Long: Highlighting the Tokyo 2020 Games Legacy
I was so happy to have attended the annual Travel & Adventure Show in Los Angeles last March 12, 2022, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Many prestigious speakers attended the event including travel experts such as Brian Kelly of @thepointsguy, Sarah Dandashy of @askaconcierge, and Angel Castellanos of @angels_travels.
What got me so excited the most was meeting 2020 Olympic skateboarding gold medalist Yuto Horigome and 2020 Paralympic swimming gold medalist Jessica Long. They both shared their experiences being athletes in the Tokyo 2020 games at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with a booth organized by the Government of Japan at the Travel Adventure Show, both athletes highlighted the legacy of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
The Tokyo 2020 Games Legacy
Amidst the pandemic, the Government of Japan made sure that the Tokyo 2020 Games will be remembered not only by the athletes but also by the younger generations to come, most especially the young Japanese population.
The Games aim to impact Japan’s sustainable development efforts as well as the involvement of Tokyo residents in sports and other physical activities. The Tokyo 2020 legacy focuses on sports participation, health, security, development, and culture among others.
Skateboarding Gold Medalist Yuto Horigome and His Love for Homegrown Dishes
Yuto Horigome was the first skateboarder to win a gold medal in the Olympics. He was encouraged by his father at a young age to skateboard and even encouraged him to go to the US to enter more skateboarding competitions in his pursuit of gaining more medals and accolades. I wonder if he’s been to the famous Venice Beach skatepark close to where I live in Los Angeles? His mother, on the other hand, was not as thrilled with the idea but once she saw her son’s passion and talent, she was quickly on board in encouraging him to pursue this career path when he was in elementary school.
Because I love food so much and Japan is known for its delicious cuisine, you know that I had to ask him questions about what foods he ate in preparation for the Olympics. He said there were two dining halls at the Olympic Village – one that was open 24 hours and served a variety of foods and another that served specifically Japanese cuisine. Yuto Horigome spent most of the time at the Japanese dining hall because it had familiar dishes that his grandmother made for him when he was growing up. He said he ate a lot of sushi in preparation for the games. I mean who doesn’t love sushi? I know I do!
One city that holds a special place in Yuto’s heart is the city of Yamagata where his grandmother is from. To most people, the place is known for the beautiful cherry blossoms during the springtime but for Yuto, he highly recommends visiting during the wintertime for the snowboarding experience and to try one of the best mochis in Japan.
UPDATE (Aug 2023) – Yuto Horigome announced his sneaker line collaboration Nike SB Dunk Low x Yuto Wolf Grey with Nike Skateboarding. With the crisp light grey, white, and brown colors as the backdrop to the light moss green swoosh logo, along with his family’s crest inscribed within the skateboarding sneaker itself, I can understand why the shoe has now been SOLD OUT.
Sixteen Times Paralympic Gold Medalist Jessica Long’s Authentic Japanese Cuisine Experience
It is no secret that Jessica Long has been creating her legacy in the sport of swimming for the Paralympics since 2008. Being in Japan, I wondered if the food impacted her Tokyo 2020 experience. As a self-proclaimed coffee girl, Jessica enjoyed the good coffee being served at the dining halls and because protein plays a huge part in an athlete’s diet and lifestyle, she would also eat a lot of eggs in the mornings to start her day. She loved eating the various noodle dishes and filling up with sushi and sashimi after a game or a practice. To her, eating as much diverse food as she can is one way of soaking all of that cultural diversity. She also learned and appreciated the cultural practice of finishing one’s meal. As a Taiwanese American, my parents also instilled the value of food in me and I have grown to be mindful not to waste food growing up.
With the pandemic restrictions, the Olympic athletes weren’t able to experience their loved ones cheering them on from the sidelines. However, both Long and Horigome felt an overwhelming encouragement from the Japanese volunteers and staff. Long mentioned that after winning the medal, she was surrounded by many volunteers clapping and sharing their excitement for her. Both athletes also felt extremely safe being in Japan. Horigome even lost his wallet during the games but had it returned quickly. This is a testament to the positive aspects of Japanese culture. These are one of the many reasons why Tokyo 2020 was a success despite the pandemic.
As a travel and food blogger, experiencing food this way is a gateway to learning more about various cultures. I’ve always been a huge promoter of promoting cultural diversity through food. When a dish looks appetizing, it may make one curious about its origin and the people who make it. My hope is that through food, we breed more compassion for one another.
Japan remains to be one of my top dream destinations and I cannot wait to devour all my favorite Japanese dishes! Some of my favorites are sashimi with soy sauce, broiled yellowtail collar with a light ponzu sauce, or yakitori with a rich smoky tare sauce.
After hearing all of the stories from these two inspiring athletes, I’m ready to eat my way through Japan. I recreated some low-carb sushi rolls to enjoy for now until I can finally book that flight to Japan. Check them out here.
This post was sponsored by Visit Tokyo. But all of the opinions are my own.