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Watanabe, Knott join growing Philippines Olympic cast
Kiyomi Watanabe
STAR/File

Watanabe, Knott join growing Philippines Olympic cast

Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - June 24, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Fil-Jap Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe and Fil-American sprinter Kristina Knott have officially clinched slots to the Tokyo Olympics.

Watanabe qualified via continental quota in the women’s -63kg class based on the final and official qualification list published by the International Judo Federation (IJF) yesterday.

Knott, for her part, was one of the four who received universality places in the women’s 200m from World Athletics, formerly known as the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

Sadly, Knott tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday, forcing her to skip her two scheduled events in Karlstad, Sweden and Kuortane, Finland.

“She’s within striking distance to qualification. If she had her way, she would have wanted to qualify by ranking since there are two more competitions,” said athletics president Philip Ella Juico.

Nonetheless, the good news was Watanabe and Knott hiking the country’s entries to the quadrennial event to 15, which includes two world champions – gymnast Caloy Yulo and boxer Nesthy Petecio – and 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting.

It also came a day after golfer Juvic Pagunsan made the cut by finishing 50th of the 60 men’s participants.

Others flying to Tokyo are pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, pugs Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno and Carlo Paalam, rower Cris Nievarez, skateboarder Margie Didal, jin Kurt Barbosa, lifter Elreen Ando and shooter Jayson Valdez.

The current number exceeded the 13 athletes the country sent to the 2016 Rio Games.

And more are expected to join as women golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan’s official qualification will be announced next week while swimming is also expected to receive two universality slots.

KIYOMI WATANABE KRISTINA KNOTT
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