Ayano Braxton says sayonara


Ayano Braxton poses with her daughters Kaya, left, and Aoi at Micro Beach a little over a week before leaving the island for San Antonio, Texas. (MARK RABAGO)

Multi-titled runner and cyclist Ayano Braxton and her two daughters will be saying sayonora to Saipan tomorrow as they’re relocating to San Antonio, Texas to reunite with Braxton’s husband and Aoi and Kaya’s father, James.

The 43-year-old Run Saipan member said she will truly miss her second home after moving to the island with white powdery sand and crystal clear azure waters 17 years ago.

“I moved to Saipan because of the beautiful ocean and there’s a lot of Japanese and the view is breathtaking. I’m really going to miss it,” she told Saipan Tribune.

Multi-titled runner and cyclist Ayano Braxton poses with the many medals and plaques she won competing on Saipan. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Braxton said she will try to continue running and cycling in Texas despite the state’s weather being a little dry and hot. One thing she will not be doing in the Lone Star State though is free diving.

“I’ll surely miss the ocean, my friends that help me all the time, and the weather…the most memorable sports events I took part in will always be the triathlons where I won age groups categories before,” said Yokohama, Japan native.

Braxton added that the hospitality of the island will never be paralleled and she really appreciates the locals’ warmth.

“A lot of people cheer me on despite me not knowing them. Everyone is just friendly here. We’ll also visit Saipan in the future especially when our family goes on vacation to Japan,” she said.

Ayano Braxton free-diving in the waters of Saipan. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Aoi, 15, said like her mother she will definitely miss her close friends when they move to the U.S. mainland.
“Sad that I’m leaving my friends here. I will miss my friends, food, and the people around here.”

The former Grace Christian Academy student said she will also focus on new sports like volleyball and cheerleading after swimming for Tsunami Saipan Swimming Center in the past.

“I also want time for myself because when I had a lot of activities I didn’t have too much time for myself,” she said.

Kaya, for her part, said she will also miss her friends at GCA.

“I’m gonna miss them a lot…we’ll be starting a new life together as a family…I also wanna do volleyball, soccer, but not sure about swimming anymore,” said the 11-year-old, adding that it’s unfortunate that they’re leaving prior to the start of the Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games 2022 where she wanted to volunteer.

Run Saipan president Edward Dela Cruz Jr. wished the Braxtons good luck in their new adventure but also admitted that Ayano will surely be missed by the club.

“Ayano is going to be missed. She’s made a huge impact in not just athletics but triathlon as well just like Shuji Kuroda and Marshall Hoskins in their short time on Saipan. Her story of why she runs is an example for us all that you can beat diseases with a change of life style, hard work, and perseverance. We wish her and her family the best out there.”

Ayano Braxton recently revealed in Run Saipan’s newsletter that her active lifestyle has allowed her to beat cancer.

Just some of the elder Braxton’s list of athletic accomplishments on Saipan include finishing first place in the following events: the Inaugural Happy Hearts 5K Fun Run in March 18, 2022, part of the Run Saipan team that won the non-profit club’s Inaugural Marianas Ekiden in Feb. 19, 2002, Saipan Unity Lions Club’s 5th Annual Bike Race in Nov. 28, 2021, Tryouts for Oceania Cycling Confederation’s Pacific Cup in Aug. 9, 2021, and the 5th Off-Road Duathlon in November 2020.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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