Karatekas to gain French entry

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - May 10, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The wait is finally over Karate Pilipinas Sports Federation (KPSF) president Ricky Lim has confirmed receiving an email from the French consul in Istanbul for an appointment today to clear the way for four athletes with pending visa applications to compete in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Paris on June 11-13.

Theyve given us special authorization recommended by the French Ministry of Sports,” said Lim.

Of the seven Olympic candidates, four still lack visas to enter France.  The four are Filipino passport holders Jamie Lim, Alwyn Batican, Ivan Agustin and Sharief Afif who are training in Istanbul.

Two others Joane Orbon and Junna Tsukii are dual citizens with foreign passports so they wont need a visa.  Late entry Joco Vasquez is in Manila and will secure his visa from the French Embassy to fly directly to Paris.

Lim said hes confident of qualifying athletes to Tokyo.

To make it, the karatekas must finish in the top three of their divisions.  “Im confident, particularly with our girls,” he said.

“’Di ako umaasa sa wildcard kasi that’s beyond our control.  Junna is No. 8 in the world and recently won in Serbia and Portugal.  Junna has found her fighting style, she’s confident, composed, relaxed.

Dati if she falls behind, nawawala ang diskarte pero ngayon, poised na siya.  Jamie has improved two times over her gold medal showing sa SEA Games in skills and conditioning.  Joane was once No. 6 in the world but gave up her points when she transferred from the US to represent the Philippines.  When she was 17, Joane wanted to compete for us but wasn’t entertained by the federation.

It took us a while to gain her trust but the new administration promised to make things right.  She’s now 26 and ready for Tokyo.”

Lim said he’s not discounting the males, including Vasquez who’s the lone aspirant in kata. Jamie Lim, who turns 24 on Thursday, is competing in the +61 kg division of womens kumite.

While Tsukii trained in Serbia and Orbon in the US, Lim joined her other teammates in a bubble camp in Calamba last February then moved to Istanbul a month later.

Jamies been preparing since last year,” said her mother Lelen Berberabe. “She savored each day that she was home, we were together 24/7 but training at home under coach Okay Arpas supervision.

She always tried to look at the bright side of things so even if it was pandemic, she was thankful for the time at home. We knew 2021 will be a lot of sacrifice, to be away from family, in the middle of COVID, in the midst of COVID risk and without vaccination.

She knows how tough the competition will be so she embraced the risks wholeheartedly and just tried her best to stay away from COVID, to be injury-free and in the best shape.”

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