Ranked first in his age group on the Japan Junior Golf Tour, boarding student Riki Ohara ’22 has much to offer the ‘Iolani Boys Varsity Golf team. However, he brings more to the ‘Iolani community than his athletic gifts; Ohara is the embodiment of a dream chaser, a young man who follows his aspirations no matter where they lead him.
Sports have been a part of Ohara’s life for as long as he can remember. He began to play soccer at age six in his hometown of Tokyo, Japan, and later joined a basketball team. Ohara was 11 years old when he finally turned to golf, largely influenced by his father, who was a proficient golfer himself. To this day, Ohara regrets not taking the sport up sooner.
“I feel I’m at a disadvantage a lot of the time because [most other players] have more experience competing in tournaments and producing different kinds of shots,” said Ohara. He noted that most of his rivals have been playing for three or more years longer than him.
Ohara knew from the moment he first picked up a golf club that he wanted to make a living in the sport. While the athleticism he developed in soccer and basketball somewhat translated into golf, Ohara still lagged behind the players that he would need to surpass in order to achieve his goals. It became evident to Ohara that he had no time to lose. He decided to quit soccer and basketball to direct all of his attention toward golf. It was a period of major transition for Ohara, as his family moved to Florida in the same time frame. There, he attended the International Management Group (IMG) Academy, an international boarding school that offers student athletes such as Ohara the opportunity to improve their performance through intense sports camps.
Ohara worked himself to the bone at the IMG Academy, spending as many as eight hours on the golf course daily. But the payoff was almost instantaneous; Ohara found himself producing increasingly good results in tournaments. Ohara attributes much of his current success to the rigorous training schedule he maintained at the academy.
“At IMG, they prioritized golf. School came second,” said Ohara. Ohara joked that he was okay with growing up to be poorly educated as long as he could play professional golf.
His mother felt differently. She insisted that Ohara concentrate on his studies during his first year of high school. The debate over what school he would attend did not last as long as one might expect, thanks to a convincing recommendation from ‘Iolani alumnus Kengo Aoshima ’17, an old friend from one of the schools Ohara attended in Tokyo. The re-establishment of ‘Iolani’s boarding program provided further incentive for Ohara to enroll. Although Aoshima, now a golfer for Wake Forest University, attended ‘Iolani to get into an American college, Ohara still had his sights set solely on a future in golf.
Every day after school, Ohara golfs for two hours before returning to the dorms for dinner. He practices three times as long on Saturday and Sunday. While his agenda would overwhelm the average person, Ohara wishes he could spend even more time honing his craft.
“[The coursework] tends to slow my growth in golf. But if it’s just for one year, I’m satisfied,” said Ohara contentedly.
Following his time at ‘Iolani, Ohara plans to return to the IMG Academy to chase his dreams at full throttle. But with his incorruptible goal-driven mentality, Riki Ohara will leave behind an inspiring legacy of diligence and determination, if not an HHSAA State Championship title.