THE country’s kumite karatekas have an extra incentive to excel in the 30th Southeast Asian Games later this month: If they bag a gold medal, they will compete in the World Olympic qualifying tournament in Paris, France in May next year.
“This is what we promised our athletes should they win a gold in the Southeast Asian Games. Win a gold and you get a chance to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” Karate Pilipinas president Ricky Lim said last Wednesday night after the pep rally for the national team at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
After two months of intensive training in Turkey funded by the Philippine Sports Commission, a handful of athletes have emerged as the country’s gold medal hopefuls in the sport that was last held in the 2013 edition of the SEA Games in Myanmar.
They are led by Fil-Japanese Juna Tsukii, who bagged a bronze medal in the womens’ 50-kilogram division in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia who is currently competing in Olympic ranking competitions.
Also in the team are SEA Games debutants Jamie Lim and Fil-Am Joane Orbon, who are set to compete in the women’s +61-kg and -61kg categories, respectively.
A summa cum laude graduate of BS Math at UP Diliman last March, Lim, who took a four-year layoff to focus on her college studies, is the daughter of former national basketball player Samboy Lim and former SSS president Atty. Darlene Berberabe.
Lim, who attended the pep rally, said the two-month training overseas enabled her to regain her stamina and conditioning and was looking forward to competing in her first SEA Asian Games.