The month of May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.
We’d like to take this opportunity to put the spotlight on some of the amazing Asian American and Pacific Islanders within the track and field community, not only in the United States, but in other parts of the world as well. The list of athletes below is short as it is only just a snapshot of the powerful females who represent the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Is there an athlete not mentioned that you want to highlight? Send us a message, we would be happy to share their story too!
Scout Bassett is an American Paralympic Track & Field Athlete who competes in the sprints and long jump; she is the current world record holder in the T42 400m and American record holder in the T42 100m and 200m.
Bassett was born in Nanjing, China and following the tragic loss of her right leg in a chemical fire as a newborn baby she was abandoned. She went on to spend the first seven years of her life in an orphanage, before being adopted by an American couple in 1995 – Harbor Springs, Michigan became her new home. However, growing up in Michigan wasn’t the easiest.
During her school years Bassett remarked that “the girls were non inclusive and unaccepting.” So, she buried herself in books and sports including soccer and the triathlon and went on to gain a full scholarship to UCLA, graduating with degrees in Sociology and Anthropology in 2011.
Before turning to athletics, Bassett won three silver medals and one bronze medal in the ITU Paratriathlon World Championships. In 2012 Bassett participated in her first full season of athletics training, in hopes of qualifying for the 2012 Summer Paralympics, since the paratriathlon was not yet included on the Olympic program. Unfortunately Bassett did not make the team, but in 2015 she moved to San Diego to train full time as she still wanted to achieve her Olympic dream.
In 2016 she qualified for the 2016 Summer Paralympics, where she eventually went on to place fifth in the 100m and tenth in the long jump. In 2017 she came third in both the 100m and long jump at the World Championships and in 2019 she won gold in the T42-44/T61-62 long jump at the Parapan American Games.
“Nothing in the world is going to bring me back my leg, and therefore, I just had to accept that and own that this is who I am, and it’s a part of me and that is both beautiful and strong.”
Edna Boafob is a heptathlete from Papua New Guinea; she is a three-time National Champion and placed eighth at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Boafob only started competing in the heptathlon in 2019 – coming from a 400m background – with her first competition being the Pacific Games in Samoa. She was only nineteen at the time and was only set out to be part of the relay teams, but the opportunity was presented to her to compete in the multi-events and she took it. Boafob had to learn to jump and throw quite fast but the quick turn around didn’t stop her – she came away with the bronze medal.
In 2022 Boafob competed at the Pacific Mini Games in which she won the gold – this was only her second heptathlon ever because the COVID-19 pandemic put a pause on her ability to be able to compete. Only a few weeks after that Boafob went on to compete at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. She achieved four new personal bests, one in the high jump, shot put, javelin and her overall heptathlon score.
Boafob is beyond inspirational, representing her country on the international stage, paving the way for other Oceania athletes to flourish.
Friana Kwevira is a Vanuatuan Paralympic right arm amputated javelin thrower. She competed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in which she placed third in the F46 category. This was Vanuatu’s first ever Commonwealth Games medal and with this achievement Vanuatu joined Cook Islands and the Solomon Islands – two other Pacific nations – in winning their maiden Commonwealth Games medals.
Kwevira was only nineteen at the time and had only been involved in the sport for a year. She was introduced to para sports when she took part in a talent identification program and then started to train seriously for javelin shortly after that.
When talking of Kwevira the President of the Vanuatu Paralympic Committee said her “story show[s] what could be achieved for people living with an impairment in Vanuatu.”
Follow along on our instagram @trackgirlz for more athlete highlights and inspiring narratives.