Junna Tsukii has an impetus bound for Paris. – SHERWIN VARDELEON

Junna Tsukii’s confidence has certainly skyrocketed with her recent triumph in Karate 1-Premier League.

But more than victory, it opened a clear path for the likelihood of the brave Filipino-Japanese karateka claiming a seat at the Tokyo Olympics.

After finishing on the medal podium in the women’s -50kg kumite, Tsukii has already punished all likely enemies in her path during the upcoming Olympic qualifier June 11-13 in Paris, France.

“This is my first gold medal on the world stage. To everyone who has supported me so far, this medal is for you, ”Tsukii, 29, said on his Instagram post after his 2-0 victory over Moldir Zhangbyrbay of Kazakhstan in the competition. held in Lisbon, Portugal.

All the reigning Southeast Asian Games champion and 2018 Asian Games bronze medalist needed was a round kick on Sunday night that hit Zhangbyrbay for an effective ‘waza-ari’, a score worth two points.

“Junna has a great chance during qualifying in Paris. She beat every possible opponent in qualifying, ”said Karate Pilipinas president Ricky Lim.

Tsukii defeated top Iranian candidate Sara Bahmanyar, dominated Daniela Gallego of Colombia, and toppled Radwa Sayed of Egypt to lead the group in the first round before beating two-time world champion Alexandra Recchia in the semi-final who arranged the gold medal meet with Zhangbyrbay.

“Junna was more calm, relaxed and confident. His emotions are under control all the time and have strictly followed the game plan, ”said Lim.

Tsukii, born in Pasay City and emigrated to Japan at the age of 3 before learning karate under her father’s tutelage, gained a lot of ranking points with the victory, but Lim said that was not enough. not to obtain an automatic Olympic qualification. .

Ranked 15th in the -50kg ahead of the Lisbon tournament, Lim said Tsukii would move up to 9th or 10th in the world.

“My matches were very difficult. You can tell the best karatekas in the world are here, ”Tsukii told wkf.net.

As the final Olympic qualification presents a glimmer of hope, Tsukii must end up with a medal at the Paris meeting to get passage to join the Philippine team in Tokyo.

“The good thing about the qualifying tournament in Paris is that all of the strongest opponents in his division have already qualified,” Lim said.

Tsukii is in the process of preparing his flight plans to Istanbul, Turkey, to join the national karateo team. Training in Turkey is supposed to end on May 15, but Lim has asked to extend camp until June 6 before heading to Paris. INQ

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