PEARL CITY, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's not every day that kids get to train with an Olympian. The State Judo Association Summer Camp at Pearl City High School is giving participants from all over the state that chance. Kevin Asano is running the camp. Asano won the silver medal in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. He is now a sensei at the Leeward Judo Club and decided to put on a three-day camp this weekend.The turnout was impressive.
"We were hoping for at least 50 we have 80 today," says Asano, "I think judo is growing here in Hawaii because we have it in the public and private schools."
A sensei from Germany -- who trains Olympians in that country -- was flown in for the camp. And another is a visiting sensei from the mainland.
"On the west coast, it is big," says Roy Kawaji, who is originally from Pearl City, but currently operates a judo club in Portland, Oregon, "It is big in California. It is big in Washington. In Oregon, we're trying to make it grow there."
It has been 27 years since Asano was in the Olympics, in that time he's been training generations of kids. Some, like 17-year old Kellen Goya, had to learn about Asano's achievements from others.
"I wanted to come because Kevin Asano, he's an Olympic silver medalist," says Goya, a Junior at Waiakea High School. He has been training since he was five years old. He is excited to be spending the weekend on Oahu for the camp.
"It's really fun, especially because I'm from the Big Island so my whole team comes up and we get to bond together, make new friends, learn more about judo," says Goya.
With the popularity of Asano's first summer camp, he's already thinking of making it an annual event.
Because of the high turnout, the Leeward Judo Club made room for dozens more. If you are part of the Judo Association and would like to participate on Saturday, you still can. The camp is at the Pearl City High School Cafeteria and runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.