Leilani started judo in Japan when she was 7 years old and the moment she stepped onto the mat, fell in love with the sport. She started competing in Junior US Nationals at the age of 8 and has successfully created a collection of gold medals. Because Junior US Nationals occur three times a year, she has won over 20 junior national titles. She has also won over 10 Junior International titles. At the age of 13, Leilani won her first Senior National medal. Although she was disappointed with the bronze, her senior competition debut was a success.
After graduating from high school and thus from junior competition, Leilani decided to focus on school and attend the University of Washington. She graduated with a degree in Political Science and Sociology. Since graduating, she has developed an interest in sports, health, and nutrition and is currently working as a personal trainer in Colorado Springs. In the future, she plans to go back to school to get a doctorate in physical therapy.
Leilani has since returned to full-time training and year round competition where she is part of Team USA Judo and is striving to compete in the 2016 Olympics in the 63kg division. She trains two to three times a day, six days a week to achieve this goal.
In 2013, Leilani won her first world cup gold in Apia, Samoa. She is looking forward to further improvement and more success in the years leading up to the 2016 Olympics.
Thank you for taking the time to help support Leilani Akiyama pursue her dream of reaching the 2016 Olympics!