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Philippine karatekas eye Tokyo berths

Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Fil-Japanese karateka Junna Tsukii could be the country’s best bet in the sport to earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympics set July 29 to Aug. 4.

“Realistically speaking, there are three ways for Junna (Tsukii) to qualify, and her best chance is the Paris qualifiers,” said Karate Pilipinas, Inc. president Richard Lim in yesterday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

Lim was referring to the Olympic qualifying event in Paris, France in June where the top three finishers in each weight class will earn tickets to Tokyo.

Tsukii can also qualify by finishing in the top four of the Olympic ranking system where one gains points by competing in the Premier League and World Championships, emerging in the top two in the regionals and as a wild card.

In the ranking system, Tsukii is currently 10th and while the Premier League is ongoing, she would need to thread the proverbial eye of the needle to make it.

Tsukii is closer in the regionals where she is ranked No. 3.

“She is number three in the region right now. We’re hoping she would be considered,” said Lim. “Of course, there is still the wild card.”

Tsukii enjoyed the benefit of training in Japan and in Serbia late last year. She is scheduled to compete in the Premier League on Feb. 14 in Portugal.

Aside from Tsukii, also seeking to make it to the Olympics are Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Jamie Lim and bronze medal winner Joane Orbon.

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