‘Karatekas have what it takes’

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    DESPITE host Vietnam’s decision to reduce the karate events in the 31st Southeast Games in Hanoi in November, karate chief Ricky Lim yesterday said local karatekas have what it takes to exceed their performance in the games held in the country two years ago.

    “Vietnam took out two weight categories, including one where Junna Tsukii is competing,” Lim, the Karate Pilipinas Sports Foundation Inc. president, said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association online forum.

    A bronze medalist in the 2017 Malaysia edition of the games, Tsukii, a Fil-Japanese, bagged her first SEA Games gold medal by ruling the women’s minus 50-kilogram division at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

    The other gold was delivered Jamie Christine Lim, who topped the plus 61-kilogram class, while the rest of the Pinoy campaigners garnered one silver and nine bronze medals as the Philippines finished fifth overall among seven countries in the discipline.

    Lim also dropped by the Vietnamese organizers was the men’s minus 55-kilogram category where Norman Montalvo won a silver medal.

    “Mahina kasi ang Vietnam sa mga lightweight division and duon tayo nag-e-excel na mga Pilipino so we are still contesting it. Pinaglalaban nating maibalik yong mga weight class na iyon,” he said.

    Despite these challenges, he added, “we expect our karatekas to do better in Vietnam considering majority of them were competing in the SEA Games for the first time two years ago. They gained a lot of confidence from their exposure in the last SEA Games when 60 to 70 percent of them were first-timers. Napakita nila na kaya nilang manalo.”

    A SEA Games gold medalist in kata (forms), Lim also expressed hopes the national kata exponents would strike gold in Hanoi after bagging three bronze medals in the 30th SEA Games.

    “We have a lot of promising kata athletes and we hope to bring some of them to our training camp in Istanbul, Turkey next month since they have a lot of good kata coaches there,” he said.