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Judoka eyes qualifying tiffs for Rio Olympics
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - January 4, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Fil-Japanese judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, a two-time Southeast Asian Games champion and 2014 Asian Youth tilt gold medalist, gears up for two tough tournaments in pursuit of a spot in the Rio Olympics.

“Judo (association) will field Watanabe in two Olympic-qualifying tournaments in her bid to qualify for the Olympics,” said Romeo Magat, head of the Philippine Olympic Committee’s Cluster B task force for the Rio Games.

Magat met with officials of the Philippine Judo Federation (PJF) as well as the track and field, weightlifting and shooting associations yesterday to get updates.

Watanabe, 19, will compete in the Grand Slam Paris in February in France and the Asian Seniors Championships in April in Uzbekistan to try to earn Olympic ranking points.

Per qualification guidelines, judokas can book a ticket to Rio based on their standing in the IJF World Ranking as of May 2016. The Top 14 in each division will directly qualify. Aspirants can also get in via Continental Qualification, which will be based on the ranking across all weight categories, and also via Tripartite.

Hurdler Eric Shaun Cray was the first Filipino athlete to qualify for Rio after meeting the standard last year.

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz had also virtually qualified after a strong showing in the 2015 World Championships which catapulted her to No. 4 in the Olympic Qualification Ranking List of the IWF. Male lifter Nestor Colonia will seek to join Diaz when he competes in the Olympic-qualifying tourney in Samarkand, Uzbekistan in April.

Meanwhile, Magat said the athletics association reported that long jump queen Marestella Torres may qualify for Rio through universality or direct qualification if she meets the qualifying standard of 6.70 meters.

Torres and another aspirant, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, will see action in the Asian Indoor Championships in Qatar and the Asian Cross Country Championships in Bahrain to try to boost their Olympic bids.   

In shooting, Hagen Topacio (trap), Amparo Acuna (air rifle) and Jason Valdez (3-position) have all surpassed the Olympic-qualifying standard in their respective events.

AMPARO ACUNA ASIAN INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIPS ASIAN YOUTH CLUSTER B CONTINENTAL QUALIFICATION FRANCE AND THE ASIAN SENIORS CHAMPIONSHIPS GRAND SLAM PARIS HAGEN TOPACIO HURDLER ERIC SHAUN CRAY JASON VALDEZ KIYOMI WATANABE
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