SHOWING that she is in competitive shape for her Olympic qualifying build-up, 30th Southeast Asian Games karate gold medalist Junna Tsukii topped the women’s minus 50 kilogram division of the Golden Tournament in Serbia last Saturday.
Starting with a 3-0 win over a Russian foe in the first round, Tsukii won three bouts and figured in one draw – a 0-0 standoff against a Serbian opponent – before completing her winning drive with 2-0 and 2-1 victories, respectively, over Croatian entries in the semifinals and finals.
“I’m very happy to be able to fight with top players at this time,” the Filipino-Japanese said in a post on her Facebook account shortly after her triumph. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Serbian Karate Federation and to Roksanda sensei for giving us such a wonderful opportunity. Let’s move on to take advantage of this experience.”
Karate chief Ricky Lim, who is with some of the other Pinoy Olympic karate hopefuls training in Istanbul, Turkey, said the competition that Tsukii saw action in “is one of the many pocket tournaments in Serbia since she began training there early this year.”
Eyeing to make it to the Tokyo Olympics in July through the Olympic qualifying ranking tournaments, Tsukii also saw action in the Karate 1 Premier League tournament two weeks ago in Istanbul but failed to advance beyond the opening round.
“She (Tsukii) went back to Serbia for training on her own because if she returns back to Japan she would be quarantined for two weeks without practice,” Lim said. “Junna will join us here in Istanbul after competing in the Premier League leg in Lisbon, Portugal at the end of April.”
Lim, the Karate Pilipinas Sports Federation president, said the team was doing okay in its workouts in the Turkish capital and was focused on “training and sparring with different Olympic hopefuls who are also here in Istanbul.
“A lot of those who saw action in the Premier League tournament here decided to stay and train here instead for world Olympic qualifying competition in Paris, France in June. We are training with Turkish and Mexican karatekas right now.”
Also in Istanbul now, he added, are Jamie Christine Lim, who also won a gold medal in the 30th Southeast Asian Games; Fil-Am Joane Orbon, Jason Macaalay, Alwin Bagtican, and Ivan Agustin, whose workouts are being supervised by national team coach Okay Arpa of Turkey.
The world Olympic qualifiers are scheduled June 11 to 13 in the French capital.